Still Alice" is a compelling read. Author Lisa Genova writes from the perspective of Alice, a 50 year old psychology professor at Harvard. Beginning with moments of forgetting and confusion, the book follows her personal journey as she sinks into Alzheimer's disease. Through Alice's eyes we also witness her husband and children's reactions as they struggle to come to terms with Alice's condition.
So what is so captivating about this book? It is not a subject I know a great deal about and not one I would think to choose to take to bed each night. It gives a very accessible insight into the world of an Alzheimer's sufferer, told in such a way as to make it difficult to put down.
Alice, teacher, lecturer, researcher - efficient, independent, intellectually sharp and in control, suddenly finds her world changing and shrinking. Her ability to perform basic tasks diminishes as the book progresses. Imagine getting lost a few blocks from your office. Imagine struggling to remember your children's names. Imagine not being able to find the toilet in your own home. The reality is awful and yet the book is not a depressing read. The silver lining for me was witnessing her changing relationship with her youngest daughter, who she knows the least, yet who helps the most as things get worse. It follows the ability ,or often inability, of the family to handle the stress and Alice's perception of the people and events in her life. As her sense of self diminishes she wonders how to identify herself as she loses her Harvard life.
Alice could be your mother, your neighbour, your friend - you. Alice has early onset Alzheimer's. She is not an ageing grandparent where the level of forgetting seems more normal.
Watching her life, as if it were a picture, the colour fades first, finding black and white, then shades of grey and then, like an old photo, parts of the picture fade out completely. Read this book for the knowledge of what it is like to live with Alzheimer's. Read it if you know someone who is suffering. Read it to understand.