Genre: Medical Fiction
Number of Pages: 292
Publication Date: January 6, 2009
Rating: out of 5
Themes: Living in the Moment, Maintaining Control, Quality of Life
At fifty years old, Alice Howland is at the peak of her career. She is a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and an expert at linguistics. Her driven character always strives for the best and thrives living in the research/learning environment she’s come accustomed to.
However, when she begins to forget a word here and there and where things are placed, Alice questions if this forgetfulness is normal or not. Seeing a neurologist, she learns a truth that will alter her life forever.
My overall thoughts of this book are: it was amazing and yet extremely sad. The author does an impeccable job in allowing her readers to understand and grasp what early-onset Alzheimer’s means. The concept of the disease is accessible even to those who are unfamiliar with Alzheimer’s.
Both the characters and plot structure were fully developed. What makes this read even more unique is that Genova took someone who was defined by her intelligence and research and made her the protagonist. The author wasn’t afraid to show that Alzheimer’s can affect even those who are as intelligent as Alice and, even more terrifying, someone as young as Alice.
The themes mentioned earlier were woven throughout the text and were very appropriate. Without giving too much away, those who have this disease ‘living in the moment’ becomes important to them. After all, yesterday is mostly gone and the future isn’t really accessible; Alice learns this towards the beginning of her diagnosis. Along with this theme, Alice struggles to maintain control of her life as her memories continue to slip. Again, I felt Genova captured this extremely well.
During the read, I found Alice’s relationships with her family interesting and very realistic. There were those who were more understanding than others and some whose actions and words were somewhat incomprehensible. Opposite, but also common.
As some of you may know, I love learning while I read. Not only did I learn about early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, but I also felt I got a first-hand account of what living with this disease is like. Thoughts become disjointed. Fuzzy. Unclear. Being told in Alice’s perspective gives the reader insight to her mind deterioration, which is probably what made this book both sad/depressing and unforgettable.
Overall, I loved this very moving book and really enjoyed discussing it with my close friends during Book Club.