Still Alice

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Still Alice

by Lisa Genova

Gallery Books | January 6, 2009 | Trade Paperback

4.5303 out of 5 rating. 198 Reviews
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In Lisa Genova's extraordinary New York Times bestselling novel, an accomplished woman slowly loses her thoughts and memories to Alzheimer's disease-only to discover that each day brings a new way of living and loving. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, and Kristen Stewart!

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer's disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what it's like to literally lose your mind...

Reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind, Ordinary People, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Still Alice packs a powerful emotional punch and marks the arrival of a strong new voice in fiction.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 320 pages, 8.25 × 5.44 × 0.8 in

Published: January 6, 2009

Publisher: Gallery Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1439102813

ISBN - 13: 9781439102817

I read the publisher’s jacket copy of Still Alice and decided the last thing I wanted to read was a story about a woman who gets Alzheimer’s. How fortunate that I decided to crack open this little jewel. You will be drawn into this story from the first paragraph and become totally connected to the unfolding life of Alice Howland. Alice is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s at the height of her success, a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with an equally successful husband and three grown children. Her students are enthralled by her lectures and she has reached that point in her life where she is stimulated and fulfilled both at work and at home. But, when she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life and her relationship with the world, forever. At once beautiful and terrifying, Lisa Genova’s novel Still Alice is a moving depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. We are with her as she fights against what is happening to her. Try as she might, Alice cannot deny the reality of her diagnosis; slowly, inexorably, her brain lets her down. This is an extraordinary debut novel about an accomplished woman who slowly loses her thoughts and memories to a harrowing disease - only to discover that each day brings a new way of living and loving.
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– More About This Product –

Still Alice

by Lisa Genova

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 320 pages, 8.25 × 5.44 × 0.8 in

Published: January 6, 2009

Publisher: Gallery Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1439102813

ISBN - 13: 9781439102817

About the Book

"Still Alice" is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman's sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer's disease, written by a first-time author who holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Reminiscent of "A Beautiful Mind" and "Ordinary People," this work packs an emotional punch.

Read from the Book

SEPTEMBER 2003 Alice sat at her desk in their bedroom distracted by the sounds of John racing through each of the rooms on the first floor. She needed to finish her peer review of a paper submitted to the Journal of Cognitive Psychology before her flight, and she''d just read the same sentence three times without comprehending it. It was 7:30 according to their alarm clock, which she guessed was about ten minutes fast. She knew from the approximate time and the escalating volume of his racing that he was trying to leave, but he''d forgotten something and couldn''t find it. She tapped her red pen on her bottom lip as she watched the digital numbers on the clock and listened for what she knew was coming. "Ali?" She tossed her pen onto the desk and sighed. Downstairs, she found him in the living room on his knees, feeling under the couch cushions. "Keys?" she asked. "Glasses. Please don''t lecture me, I''m late." She followed his frantic glance to the fireplace mantle where the antique Waltham clock, valued for its precision, declared 8:00. He should have known better than to trust it. The clocks in their home rarely knew the real time of day. Alice had been duped too often in the past by their seemingly honest faces and had learned long ago to rely on her watch. Sure enough, she lapsed back in time as she entered the kitchen, where the microwave insisted that it was only 6:52. She looked across the smooth, uncluttered surface of the granite countertop, and there they were, next
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From the Publisher

In Lisa Genova's extraordinary New York Times bestselling novel, an accomplished woman slowly loses her thoughts and memories to Alzheimer's disease-only to discover that each day brings a new way of living and loving. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, and Kristen Stewart!

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer's disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what it's like to literally lose your mind...

Reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind, Ordinary People, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Still Alice packs a powerful emotional punch and marks the arrival of a strong new voice in fiction.

About the Author

Lisa Genova has a degree in Biopsychology, from Bates College, and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. Lisa is the author of the New York Times Bestselling novel STILL ALICE. Her second novel is LEFT NEGLECTED. She lives with her family on Cape Cod.

Editorial Reviews

"Because the full, internal experience of Alzheimer's is an account that fiction alone can deliver, it's no surprise that the go-to book for caretakers and early-stage sufferers is a novel. "Still Alice," written by the neuroscientist Lisa Genova, offers a crisp, straightforward, and wrenching depiction of the fifty-year-old Harvard professor Alice Howland's descent into the swift, early-onset form of the disease."

Bookclub Guide

Discussion Questions:

1. When Alice becomes disoriented in Harvard Square, a place she''s visited daily for twenty-five years, why doesn''t she tell John? Is she too afraid to face a possible illness, worried about his possible reaction, or some other reason?

2. After first learning she has Alzheimer''s disease, "the sound of her name penetrated her every cell and seemed to scatter her molecules beyond the boundaries of her own skin. She watched herself from the far corner of the room" (pg. 70). What do you think of Alice''s reaction to the diagnosis? Why does she disassociate herself to the extent that she feels she''s having an out-of-body experience?

3. Do you find irony in the fact that Alice, a Harvard professor and researcher, suffers from a disease that causes her brain to atrophy? Why do you think the author, Lisa Genova, chose this profession? How does her past academic success affect Alice''s ability, and her family''s, to cope with Alzheimer''s?

4. "He refused to watch her take her medication. He could be mid-sentence, mid-conversation, but if she got out her plastic, days-of-the-week pill container, he left the room" (pg. 89). Is John''s reaction understandable? What might be the significance of him frequently fiddling with his wedding ring when Alice''s health is discussed?

5. When Alice''s three children, Anna, Tom and Lydia, find out they can be tested for the genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer''s, only Lydia decides she doesn''t want to know. Why does she decline? Would you want to know if you had the gene?

6. Why is her mother''s butterfly necklace so important to Alice? Is it only because she misses her mother? Does Alice feel a connection to butterflies beyond the necklace?

7. Alice decides she wants to spend her remaining time with her family and her books. Considering her devotion and passion for her work, why doesn''t her research make the list of priorities? Does Alice most identify herself as a mother, wife, or scholar?

8. Were you surprised at Alice''s plan to overdose on sleeping pills once her disease progressed to an advanced stage? Is this decision in character? Why does she make this difficult choice? If they found out, would her family approve?

9. As the symptoms worsen, Alice begins to feel like she''s living in one of Lydia''s plays: "(Interior of Doctor''s Office. The neurologist left the room. The husband spun his ring. The woman hoped for a cure.)" (pg. 141). Is this thought process a sign of the disease, or does pretending it''s not happening to her make it easier for Alice to deal with reality?

10. Do Alice''s relationships with her children differ? Why does she read Lydia''s diary? And does Lydia decide to attend college only to honor her mother?

11. Alice''s mother and sister died when she was only a freshman in college, and yet Alice has to keep reminding herself they''re not about to walk through the door. As the symptoms worsen, why does Alice think more about her mother and sister? Is it because her older memories are more accessible, is she thinking of happier times, or is she worried about her own mortality?

12. Alice and the members of her support group, Mary, Cathy, and Dan, all discuss how their reputations suffered prior to their diagnoses because people thought they were being difficult or possibly had substance abuse problems. Is preserving their legacies one of the biggest obstacles to people suffering from Alzheimer''s disease? What examples are there of people still respecting Alice''s wishes, and at what times is she ignored?

13. "One last sabbatical year together. She wouldn''t trade that in for anything. Apparently, he would" (pg. 223). Why does John decide to keep working? Is it fair for him to seek the job in New York considering Alice probably won''t know her whereabouts by the time they move? Is he correct when he tells the children she would not want him to sacrifice his work?

14. Why does Lisa Genova choose to end the novel with John reading that Amylix, the medicine that Alice was taking, failed to stabilize Alzheimer''s patients? Why does this news cause John to cry?

15. Alice''s doctor tells her, "You may not be the most reliable source of what''s been going on" (pg. 54). Yet, Lisa Genova chose to tell the story from Alice''s point of view. As Alice''s disease worsens, her perceptions indeed get less reliable. Why would the author choose to stay in Alice''s perspective? What do we gain, and what do we lose?

Enhance Your Book Club:

1. If you''d like to learn more about Alzheimer''s or help those suffering from the disease, please visit www.actionalz.org or www.alz.org.

2. The Harvard University setting plays an important role in Still Alice. If you live in the Cambridge area, hold your meeting in one of the Harvard Square cafŽs. If not, you can take a virtual tour of the university at: http://www.hno.harvard.edu/tour/guide.html

3. In order to help her mother, Lydia makes a documentary of the Howlands'' lives. Make one of your own family and then share the videos with the group.

4. To learn more about Still Alice or to get in touch with Lisa Genova, visit www.StillAlice.com.

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