I hardly even know where to begin with this novel by Lisa Genova. OK, how's this:
But be prepared to be weepy and really sad. Still Alice is the story of 50-year-old Alice, a professor of linguistics at Harvard who becomes alarmed when she misses a word here and there in a lecture and gets lost in her own neighborhood. She expects to hear the neurologist say, "Get more sleep" or "Take a vacation." Instead, he hits her with the unbelievable: "You have early onset Alzheimer's disease."
The novel then follows Alice's rapid decline, from Alice's own point of view. I found myself actually weeping at a couple of points, especially in her interaction with her grown children and in her constant realization that she will not be getting any better. Ever.
Publisher's Weekly has it all wrong. They say, "Genova's prose style is clumsy and her dialogue heavy-handed. This novel will appeal to those dealing with the disease and may prove helpful, but beyond the heartbreaking record of illness there's little here to remember."
On the contrary, I found her writing style graceful and her dialogue completely believable. (And I really have a thing about dialogue.) In fact, after reading Still Alice, I was struck with the total unfairness that brilliant medical professionals like Genova (she's a neuroscientist) and Abraham Verghese (internist and author of the amazing Cutting for Stone) can also write brilliant novels. Sooo not right.
But I'm glad for them both, Genova and Verghese. And I don't think you have to be "dealing with the disease" to be touched by this book. You just have to be a feeling human being. (Publisher's Weekly gets two big thumbs-down for its review.)
Other Bloggers' Reviews of Still Alice
A Novel Menagerie
Books on the Brain
The Bookworm's Library