Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice is a compelling début novel about a 50-year-old woman’s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.
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… Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what’s it’s like to literally lose your mind…
” ~ Blurb from Amazon

My Take

This is a – must read! What a compelling story about a remarkable woman whose life is slowly torn apart by this dreadful disease – Alzheimer’s. The reader journeys with Alice the main character through the stunning diagnosis of her Alzheimer’s, her painful disbelief and her eventual decision to come to terms with this illness. If you like a nice book that pulls you in from the start, this is it. From the detailed account of how the symptoms started to manifest, diagnosis and treatment procedure, it is clear that Still Alice is a well researched book by first time author – Lisa Genova.

I have to note one thing though, there are quite some scientific terms in this book which some people complain is off-putting. However, I am not science inclined but I thoroughly enjoyed reading through and learning all those new terms- you might too…

Lisa Genova created an endearing and sympathetic character in Alice. With her portrayal as a high-profile personality – a Harvard professor with a busy life, it comes as such a shock to everyone as they watch this disease slowly rip her life apart. It is like watching a train wreck knowing you have no power to stop it. I find the secondary characters also interesting – Alice’s husband and three children. Each one of them have their own specific personality and – justifiably, distinct reaction to this illness. Like regular families, there are disagreements, arguments, and tension arising from the stress of the dealing with this illness – but they ultimately find ways to find resolutions. This dimension helps to add credibility to the story. Those are the sort of elements I look for in works of fiction where the characters are so well-rounded and developed that it tends to blur the line between fiction and non fiction.

This book is so well written that it does not fail to strike a chord with you. Even though no one around me is suffering from Alzheimer’s, I was heavily devastated by the pain and suffering Alice goes through. And that’s one of the things I appreciate about this book – the storyline is believable. This is indeed an intense and informative story. I urge you please read it.

Apart from the fact that this story is a great eye-opening to what people afflicted with this disease actually go through, it is also a useful resource for those whose loved one is dealing with this unfortunate situation.

Still Alice grips you from the onset. It is also moving, and heartbreaking. I tell you- I was bawling through the last couple chapters of the book – it is that touching!

Author – Lisa Genova
Publication Date – January 6, 2009
Number of Pages – 292 pages
Genre – Fiction (Women’s lives and relationships)
Geographical Setting – Cambridge, MA
About the Author:

Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. She is the author of the New York Times Bestselling novels STILL ALICE, LEFT NEGLECTED, and LOVE ANTHONY. ~ Amazon

Waiting to Be Heard

Author – Amanda Knox
Publication Date – April 30, 2013
Number of Pages – 480
Genre – Memoir
Geographical Setting – Perugia, Italy

This is a true story which made headlines first in 2007 when Amada Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were accused of the murder of Amanda’s room-mate Meredith Kercher a twenty-one year old foreign exchange student from outside London. Amanda and Raffaele were both found guilty and spent four years in an Italian prison after which the conviction was overturned by the supreme court acquitting them of the murder. I saw snippets of the interview Amanda Knox gave on CNN recently which got me really curious about this story, so I quickly headed out to my local library where I found a copy of this book. As soon as I started reading it, I was enthralled. I’m mostly impressed by her detailed writing, and chronological organization of events. This gut wrenching account is bound to keep the reader enthralled until the end. I was so engrossed that I read this book in one day under covers.

In this memoir, Amanda talks openly, while giving a comprehensive account of her experiences in Italy starting from her arrival in Perugia, as a free minded American girl looking to study Creative Writing at the University of Foreigners, through – when her life takes a sudden turn the day the body of her room-mate was discovered in the apartment they shared. The reader eagerly follows the story of Amanda’s court trials, conviction and eventual acquittal. Amanda bares her mind in this compelling argument making a case for her innocence using notes from her diary, news articles, court papers and documentation. She talks about questionable police conduct, the use of false and unreliable witnesses, and then launches into her four years ordeal in an Italian prison.

This book tries to answer a lot of the questions about what really happened the night of the murder and the reasons for Amanda’s “bizarre” behavior after the body was found. You will also find blow-by-blow explanations of all the accusations labeled against her as she tries to clear up any ambiguities that has clouded the case. Her argument is geared towards poking holes in the prosecutor’s hypotheses while maintaining the lack of physical evidence placing her at the murder scene. She points out how evidence were thwarted and manipulated to fit the prosecutor’s theory of what may have happened that night.

Irrespective of your position on whether Amanda and Raffaele are guilty or innocent, this book tries to get the readers understand exactly Amada’s emotional state at the time and why she may have reacted the way she did. It also uncovers the many details the media may have missed or exaggerated upon. In the final analysis, some readers may still not find her argument logical enough, however, this is an interesting and riveting account of an unfortunate period in a twenty year old girl’s life – in a foreign land with limited language skills.

I recommend this as a great read for those highly interested in the Amanda Knox’s case or those who love murder cases in general. I plan on reading Raffaele’s book also to get his point of view.

If you have to time, please check out these links…

ABC: Amanda on Meredith and the British girls ABC: Amanda on Meredith and the British girls

CNN: Amanda on her interrogation CNN: Amanda on her interrogation

Are you familiar with this case? – please feel free to share your thoughts…