Sometimes a book makes you laugh. Sometimes a book makes you cry. But sometimes a book just leaves you speechless. It's no surprise that these types of books are the ones I most want to tell the world about but also those with which I have the hardest time finding words to communicate their impact. It could be that "impacting" might be the best description for a book I read a few weeks but still find myself reflecting on. I'm always impressed by books that can haunt me in this manner and Still Alice by Lisa Genova was definitely one such work.
I know I heard a lot about this book before I finally picked it up - more accurately before a bus-riding friend placed it in my hands with the command "Read this!" (thanks Sue!) - and if anyone else is on the fence about diving into Still Alice, don't hesitate, just read it. Yes, the subject matter is difficult; yes, it will likely tug at the heartstrings and tear ducts; but it will also lend readers admiration for the bravery of Alzheimer's patients, multiple perspectives on coping with disease, and a new appreciation for the fragility of life in general. My words can't do this book justice, you really will just have to read it for yourself.
Up close and personal in the face of Alzheimer's Disease Lisa Genova's writing doesn't shy away from her protagonist's raw feelings. Alice deals with fear, frustration, embarrassment, and anger while narrating the story in such a way that the reader is painfully aware of her failing memory. Each chapter is marked as a month and as the pages turn the young professor loses more and more of her self, struggling with the fact that she is - as the title suggests - Still Alice.
Genova's book is by no means a "feel-good story" or a "comfort read". I have a hard time recommending books to others when I know how challenging the subject matter can be, but Still Alice is what I would call an important book. It might not be a book that people will want to read, but is a book that people should read. The novel paints a portrait of the heartbreaking reality of life with Early Onset Alzheimer's and this is a book of understanding and empathy for anyone dealing with the disease directly or anyone with a loved one with dementia.