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Still Alice Paperback – 4 Mar 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (4 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847396240
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847396242
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (341 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"With grace and compassion, Lisa Genova writes about the enormous white emptiness created by Alzheimer's." -- "The Improper Bostonian" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. She is a member of the Dementia Advocacy and Support Network International and DementiaUSA and is an online columnist for the National Alzheimer's Association. She lives with her husband and two children on the Cape. Still Alice is her first novel. She is currently at work on her second that also centers on a neurologist impairment called Left Neglected.

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Lovely Treez TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 May 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"She wished she had cancer instead. She'd trade Alzheimer's for cancer in a heartbeat. She felt ashamed for wishing this and it was certainly a pointless bargaining, but she permitted the fantasy anyway. With cancer, she'd have something that she could fight. There was surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. There was the chance that she could win. Her family and the community at Harvard would rally behind her battle and consider it noble. And even if defeated in the end, she'd be able to look them knowingly in the eye and say good-bye before she left.

Alzheimer's disease was an entirely different kind of beast. There were no weapons that could slay it. Taking Aricept and Namenda felt like aiming a couple of leaky squirt guns in to the face of a blazing fire."

And there you have it in a nutshell - our protagonist, Alice Howland, professor of Cognitive Psychology at Harvard, is 50 years old when her world is rocked by the diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's disease. It's a foregone conclusion, there is no hope so what do you do - give up? hide your head in the sand? or play it by ear, knowing that one day your own body won't remember how to swallow or even breathe unassisted?

It would have been all to easy to deliver a mawkish novel dwelling on the heartache caused by dementia or an insensitive one which focuses on the disintegration of the self as the building blocks of one's memory shatter one by one. Perhaps, the author's own experience as a neuroscientist puts her in pole position to relate the story of Alice without indulging in oversentimentality yet whilst retaining a very human touch.

This story is told in the 3rd person yet, uncannily, it feels as if Alice is standing outside herself relating events which happen to her beyond her own control.
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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Mandy Boat on 21 April 2009
Format: Paperback
Having read the other 2 reviews on this book I felt compelled to voice my own opinion. I have to disagree with the previous reviewer and say that STILL ALICE really is as good as it sounds. It deals with the topic of Alzheimers and whether you have experienced this first/second hand in your life or not, I find it hard to believe that you won't be moved by this tale.

You follow Alice through her descent into the depth of dementia and see how it affects her life and those closest to her. Without going into too much techinical detail it helps the reader understand the cruelty of this disease. The author could have gone down the schmaltzy overly-emotional route but didn't. The outcome is an incredibly emotional read that you'll find very hard to put down.

I have already recommended this book to many friends and they have all come back raving about it. 5 STARS without a doubt - the best thing I have read this year.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mr D Gray on 20 Jun 2009
Format: Paperback
Ever since my wife was diagnosed with Alzheimers I have wondered what goes on in her mind and this book is the nearest I have fount to get anywhere nearer answering that question. It aroused very powerful emotions and I am so glad I read this sensitively written novel
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 100 REVIEWER on 12 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback
If the mark of a good novel is that it takes you inside the head of another person, then this is one of the best I've read in a long time. It's the story of Alice, a 50 year old Harvard professor who develops early onset Alzheimer's. Over the next two years she goes from being a highly intelligent and respected professor to someone who doesn't recognize her own family, struggles to participate in conversations and is incapable of looking after herself. The book is not narrated by Alice but is told from her point of view, so you really feel like you understand what she's going through and what her experience is like. To be honest, when I started reading it I wasn't sure if it would be my cup of tea, but I found it utterly compelling and read it in less than a day.

The subject matter means it's not always easy to read, but Genova has an understated writing style that avoids sentimentality and doesn't labor points. There's one beautifully written section early on when Alice has to give a lecture at Harvard. She has carefully written down where she has to go, what time she has to be there and what the subject of the lecture will be. However she hasn't written down that she will be giving the lecture, so she takes her place in the lecture hall and patiently waits for the lecturer to arrive. Although it's clear to the reader what's happening, Alice doesn't ever realise the mistake that she's made.

The book is obviously very thoroughly researched, but in a way this became what I liked the least about it. At times it felt like the research was dictating the storyline and that Genova was going out of her way to incorporate every example that she could.
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109 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Rosaleen on 17 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I heard a review of "Still Alice" on the BBC and was excited at the prospect of what I expected to be an accurate and sympathetic account of early onset Alzheimer's Disease (AD). I practice as a clinical diagnostic Neuropsychologist in a service that sees a substantial number of people with early onset AD and a large number of people who are worried in case they may have early onset AD. I hoped this book would be of use for the public I see as well as for my colleagues and students.

Unfortunately, I feel let down.
My principal concern with "Still Alice" is that the process of clinical diagnosis is distorted in the book and the presentation may lead to needless distress and worry in people who think they may be showing signs of early AD. Practice may differ from the UK as compared to the USA and in New England - but certainly nobody in the UK would be given a diagnosis of AD on the basis of a single weak memory test score. They would never be classified as impaired if the test score was "at the 60th percentile" (irrespective of other cognitive test achievements). A score at the 60th percentile means that out of every hundred people tested, the individual will be getting a better score than fifty-nine. This is a score in the average range.

Even a memory score that was at the 10th percentile, in the context of other tests above the 90th, would not warrant a diagnosis of AD - unless they also showed other unambiguous cognitive symptoms and signs. AD would certainly never be diagnosed on the basis of unverified self report plus a single poor score. Drug treatment would not be initiated - even in a Professor! This is because the types of memory lapse that are described in the book are not invariably symptoms of AD.
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