Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Horror story of illness

Heart-wrenching book about a women's decent into Alzheimer's. Still Alice, almost diary-like in it's form chronicles a year in the life of a Harvard professor's progression from the slow realization that something is "off", to full blown dementia. Busy with heavy work loads, John and Alice are well respected academics with careers running at full tilt. Seemingly minor incidents start to accumulate resulting with the final diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's. Genova writes a compelling novel of the stages of illness and the havoc it wreaks on people's lives. From disbelief to weary acceptance, to finally the commitment of the all consuming care, she captures some of the devastation of illness for both the patient and caregivers.

This was a hard book to read, and while I didn't especially like any of the characters, it was still sad to watch Alice's unraveling life. Both Alice and her husband seemed distant, their children selfish and narcissistic. Her preoccupation with her superior education felt shallow and annoying. My father in law, a well respected dentist developed early onset Alzheimer's. His rapid decline was as shocking as it was devastating. While I thought the author portrayed the confusion for Alice well enough, the family seemed more "movie of the week".The build up to the disease was terrifying and insightfully written, the second half, the care-taking side, seemed rushed and glossed over. Illness invades a healthy home like a tornado, ripping apart the fabric of existence for everyone. Life revolves around exhausting routines, mind numbing complications, pills, meals, laundry, the total annihilation of life as you know it. Anger and resentment, grief, and sorrow are two sided. The argument could be that this was Alice's story, but for me the second half seemed one dimensional and fell flat.

Happy Reading!
Carole P. Roman

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