Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Review - Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice by Lisa Genova was absolutely incredible - a brilliant storyline that was extremely well written and beautifully detailed. This was the first book I’ve read by Lisa and because of how much I enjoyed it I’m really looking forward to reading more by her; Love Anthony and Inside the O’briens are two more of her books which both look and sound amazing. 

In Still Alice, the reader goes on a journey with Alice who, not long after we first meet her, is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a condition which she tries so hard but is in the end unable to hide from her family. Despite her mental decline which sees her not only forgetting words but also forgetting where she lives, we also witness her try desperately to maintain her job as a lecturer at a university, one which she loves and has excelled in. However, eventually even this becomes too much for her to continue with and, although she really doesn’t want to, she is left with no choice but to give it up. 

This is an extremely powerful novel which takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster of a ride with not just Alice herself but her husband and their three children. Between them all they have a lot to cope and come to terms with and particularly difficult for them is striking a balance between caring for Alice and holding down their own jobs and careers. I must admit the character who most surprised me throughout the novel was Lydia, one of the daughters, who by the end of the novel turned out to be so selfless in the act of supporting her mother through the hardest of her days.

I can’t write this review without mentioning more of Alice’s husband, John, who I really struggled to like. When he first heard of his wife’s diagnosis he didn’t offer her much in the way of comfort or support and continued with his life as if nothing had changed - working long hours and almost avoiding spending any time with his wife. I’m afraid I really can’t comprehend why you wouldn’t want to spend as much time as possible with someone you love, particularly when they are so very unwell and in desperate need of support and companionship. 

Through reading this book I feel that I have developed a very real insight into a condition which isn’t often talked about in literature. I think that, often, when people hear Alzheimer’s mentioned they think immediately of forgetting things but actually this book demonstrates how there is so much more to it than that. Also, the whole book was written in such a way that I couldn’t help but feel some of the emotions that Alice was feeling, particularly the times when she felt entirely frustrated. 

Still Alice is a novel which has touched my heart and one which I feel I will remember for a long time to come. I must admit that at first I really wasn’t sure whether this book would be for me but I’m so glad I picked it up as I became immersed in the story very quickly. I certainly didn’t regret reading this and I’m very hopeful that you won’t either. 

Be sure to keep your eyes on this blog where you can be sure I’ll review another of Lisa’s novels in the future.