Reality in a fictional character: a review of Still Alice by Lisa Genova

When I first picked up Still Alice by Lisa Genova from the library I knew instantly that it would be a great read. I love books that can actually happen in real life. (Yes, that means I'm not a Harry Potter fan.) I just love when authors get really into their characters and show that people and life and this world in general are messy, and it's up to us to figure out answers to the who, what, where, why and how questions that give us purpose and that we encounter everyday. And just by reading the inside flap of Still Alice, I knew this book would do just that.

The brief summary of Still Alice is that it is about "An accomplished woman of 50 years, who slowly loses her thoughts and memories to a harrowing disease - only to discover that each day brings a new way of living and loving." Alice, who is a professor at Harvard and who is a world-renowned expert in linguistics, is the wife of fellow Harvard professor and mother of three grown children; Anna, Tom and Lydia. She is also, as readers find out very early (like before you even begin reading the actual novel, early) is someone who is eventually diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Still Alice is heartbreaking and inspiring. I'm literally at a loss for words on how to describe it. Alzheimer's disease to me, seems to be one of the worst things that a human being can go through, either by being the patient or a close friend or family member watching the disease progress. It breaks my heart the instant I hear about someone having it. And Lisa Genova's writing is so poignant that while reading, I either felt like a daughter of Alice's or in some of the darker moments of the novel, Alice herself. There were times when reading this novel, that I had to make myself stop reading because I felt like I was being too drawn into Alice's world and I emotionally could not handle what I saw happening next. THAT...is real and admirable writing.

Lisa Genova, a Harvard professor herself, blew my mind with her expertise on the subject matter and with her style of writing. I would highly recommend this read to anyone who is in no way dealing with a situation similar to Alice's because I do not know how someone going through this intimately would be able to cope with the reality that is put on these pages and with the situation they are living with. The author is real and raw, which I admire in writers and love to see make it to print. She takes you deep into the mind of Alice, writing from her perspective, and by getting further into her wavering and flourishing relationships throughout the two year period that the novel covers.

Above all, I loved that Alice remained as much of herself as she could. A sense of humor and wit went a long way with her character even in some of her darker moments. I also loved that the relationship with one of her daughters becomes so unbreakable that it made me second guess whether or not there ever was a time when they were not totally in sync with each other, despite Alice's illness and their history together. Through this novel, I am more convinced of the separation of body and soul. Though they are obviously and literally connected in a way, where our bodies fail, our spirits can take over and I think that is what Lisa Genova was able to elaborate on through this novel. She not only makes her characters seem so real this way, but also, she was able to give the human race, dealing with these horrible circumstances, the ability to be free from them all through living through the soul instead of the ever-failing body.


  1. Chelsea...Just before Christmas a very good friend of mine (for 30 years) told me she has early onset Alzheimers. She is a licensed therapist and a member of Mensa so she is very bright. I do not look forward to slowly losing her and her friendship to this disease. What you wrote here is so touching, it makes me want to buy the book. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful review.

    1. Reading this book might be hard since you know someone directly effected by the disease, but it does give some great insight on who people with Alzheimer's would like to be treated. So that might be something worth looking into to still remain friends through this rough time.


I love you for leaving a comment and do my best to reply to each one! I no longer accept anonymous commenting because of the amount of spam I was getting - I hope this isn't a problem for you. Thanks for checking out my blog :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...