My mom should host a book club. Her picks are the best and this one has topped my list of the favorite I have read in this challenge so far.
A book written by or about someone with a disability – Still Alice by Lisa Genova
At 52 years old, Alice has a great life, solid career and a wonderful, if slightly distant, family. She has tenure as a Pscyhology professor at Harvard and travels the world speaking at conferences. Her husband, John, is cancer researcher on the brink of a breakthrough. Everything is going as planned.
Until the day she gets lost going home and doesn’t recognize anything on a familiar street. Soon after she notices that she can’t remember certain words, has difficulty deciphering her own to do list and forgets to go teach classes. When she forgets to board a plane to head to a major conference, she knows she needs to see someone. She was not prepared for the answer though: early onset Alzheimer’s.
The book follows her progression through the disease. Her family rallies around her, handling it the best they each can in their own way.
I adored this book and cried through most of the second half of it which is very rare for me. Told through Alice’s perspective, you get a sense of the losses she suffers, not only in her memories, but in her independence and her sense of self. It is a powerful book with a powerful message.
There are a lot of questions raised through out this book that make you pause and think. In the early stages, Alice plans her own suicide and leaves her future self a daily test and directions in case she fails her test. She does not want to be a burden to her family in the future as a young, but mentally lost dependent.
She has a genetically dominant form of the disease and has three children, each with a 50% chance of having it. Do they want to know? Would you? Her daughter wants children. Should she continue trying to get pregnant knowing that she may pass this on?
Reading how each of her family members treat her is eye opening as well. Some ignore it and plod on with their own lives without wanting to make any sacrifices because “she won’t remember me anyway”. Others try to do everything for her, taking away what little independence she has left. And too few work with her within her abilities and recognize that she still is a person.
This book is amazing and everyone should read it. I know it is also a major motion picture, but I like books better than movies and will not be watching it for fear it will ruin the experience.