Author: Lisa Genova
Publisher: originally self-published, later acquired by Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2007
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life–and her relationship with her family and the world–forever.
I’ve read a few stories about Alzheimer’s Disease, but the perspective has always been the same: the family watching their loved one slowly lose their memories and selves to the disease. Still Alice was different and it was shocking and often frightening to read. Genova’s story gets you right into Alice Howland’s head as her mind begins to slip away from her, slowly at first, but increasingly quicker. I felt like this perspective was eye opening and really honest. Although a work of fiction, Genova’s novel made me feels Alice’s fear, her despair, and her confusion at the loss of those precious memories that make up a life. When Alice is lost or disoriented, I did too. When she was devastated, I was too. I couldn’t help but connect with the family as their mother slipped away from them only little bit at a time.
I know many others have called this book “clinical” or felt like it was “professor telling you the story” rather than the patient telling the story. I however, must completely disagree. Alice’s whole world is about knowledge and teaching. As a Harvard professor, she is driven to understand the disease as a whole. Learning about the disease in a more “clinical” fashion only serves to strengthen the story. It makes Alice real and it makes her suffering even greater. A wonderfully told story.