Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Random Book Review: "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova

Still Alice is the story of Alice Howland, a brilliant Harvard Psychology professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease as she enters middle age.

I read this book a few weeks ago, and to tell you the truth, it's taken me a while to frame my opinion of it.

On one hand, the snark in me railed against the flat dialogue and lackluster writing. At one point, I actually hollered "Please, just, please, don't go and describe the new snowfall as 'A true winter wonderland'!" I actually turned off the audiobook at "the baby's pudgy, blotchy, pink cheek," had my little temper tantrum and turned it back on. (Maybe this is not so much snark as snob. I'll admit it. As a developing writer, I work so hard to give each sentence its due. This kind of thing just.... grrr.)

Beyond this, the novel had a Lifetime Special sort of feel that also ticked me off. It bothered me that Alice was a brilliant, happily married person before the Alzheimer's. This seemed too pat, too expected. Why not write about a more complicated, interestingly shaded person? I griped.

But, here's the thing; Still Alice does what it does brilliantly.

As the novel progressed, and Alice's internal language begins to disintegrate, looping and repeating and leaching precision, Still Alice gave me the sort of intimate experience that makes this book totally worthwhile. I swear, my own internal thought process began to echo Alice's (!) I didn't just read about the terror at being lost in one's own house, I felt it.

I can't deny the simple power of my experience in reading-- and living-- this book. And so, despite its flaws, I sort of recommend it. Check it out... if you dare.

1 comment:

Annie Boreson said...

I really liked this review. It is as if I was trying to come up with a way to describe my experience reading it as well. I just had a discussion with my daughter about how important it is when describing something to not use a framework of thought that has been overdone...or that is so ridiculously over-zealous in adjectives that the reader is torn from the setting and thinks about whether to do a dark or white load of wash. I enjoyed this...and upon your recommendation, I'll put it down on my list of future reads.