Why should I read Still Alice? It’s probably too depressing for me or maybe you’re thinking I’ve already seen the movie. Well I am challenging you on both counts. Firstly, it is not a sad or depressing book, it is sad at the end but not throughout, I actually found it very enjoyable to read. Secondly, I saw the movie too, it was fantastic; Julianne Moore really did the character justice; but as us bookworms well know, the book is always (or almost always) even better than the movie. I can only think of one example where this is not true, and that is Shawshank Redemption, but the book is actually a novella and the movie is awesome.
The reason in particularly why the book is better than the movie, is not that you get so much more detail than the movie, the book is longer it makes sense; but no in this case, the movie was not able to portray Alice’s thoughts. In the movie you see some of her emotions on her face, and sometimes she says it out loud, but they do not tell you her thoughts, in the movie, her inner monologue. In the book you hear everything she is thinking and it is super powerful. You hear her thoughts at the beginning as she worries about how her menopause it affecting memory, and then her worries that she might have cancer or a brain tumour, you hear her thoughts when she gets lost and does not know where she lives. For me though, the most powerful scene is later in the book when Alzheimers has taken hold of her and she can no longer take part in conversations, but she listens and she reads their body language, she listens to her two daughters and her husband arguing about moving her. Alice’s thoughts are “the mother says this…” and “the actress says that…” she doesn’t even know that they are her daughters any more and by the end of this heated exchange she suddenly pieces together enough information to realise they are talking about her, in front of her.
It does feel sad at the end but the beginning is very interesting as you get to see a high-powered woman, a linguistics Professor at Harvard, you get to see little snippets of her life and it is fascinating. When she has been diagnosed with Alzheimers they perform a lot of memory tests on her; and these tests are retaken, so you are able to observe the changes in her and her test scores; she sets up a support group for those living with early onset Alzheimers and it is wonderful to watch her take charge of her own life.
Now my feelings about the husband; I remember disliking him in the movie and again in the book. I am trying to be compassionate for a man who is losing his wife in degrees, and is her carer and he does not want to lose his own career, but I have to say I do find him selfish to put his career before his ailing wife. That’s just my opinion, feel free to diagree.
Before I share the official blurb, I would also like to recommend that you read Lisa Genova’s other books; in particularly “Inside the O’Briens” which I have read several times – this one is about a Boston cop who finds out he has Huntingdon’s disease (a cruel genetic disease) and his children have to decide whether to take the test to find out if they have it too. It is a really great book, and is also not too sad, just like in Still Alice the book ends way before either character is too far gone. I have also read “Every Note Played” which is about a pianist who finds out he has ALS. This I have only read once because I found it too depressing, this one was hard to read. And finally, I am currently reading “Left Neglected” which might be my favourite Lisa Genova book; it is so easy to read, I found the main character very likeable and her condition “Left Neglect” is fascinating. Her brain does not recognise the left side of anything; left no longer exists, she cannot see or feel her left arm and foot, she cannot see the left side of the room etc and she is going through rehab to try to train her brain to recognise the left. I have never heard of this condition.
Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what’s it’s like to literally lose your mind…
Have you read Still Alice or any Lisa Genova books? What do you think?
6 thoughts on “Book Review: Still Alice (Lisa Genova)”
Glad to know that while sad this book isn’t depressing. I know my sister really liked it. I haven’t read it, or seen the movie, but it’s on my bookish radar. Great review! 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Lisa Genova is good at writing these sorts of books and mostly they end before it gets too sad and depressing.
I really love this film – Julianne Moore can do no wrong in my eyes – but I’d definitely love to read the book now I’ve read this review x
LikeLiked by 1 person
I don’t know why it took me so long to read it, but I am glad I did, great book, a whole other level!