On the shelf: ‘Still Alice’ by Lisa Genova

By Julie Tabberer, Grand Rapids Public Library, Main


Still Alice is the story of Alice and her journey through early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. I initially heard about this book from a friend who works at a local retirement community and told me that Still Alice was a bit hit with their reading club.


Alice, 50 years old, is a professor in Harvard’s psychology department and a woman who defines herself by her ability to think intelligently. As we enter her life, Alice is forming a vague suspicion that something might be wrong. The story follows her through diagnosis and into the full-blown takeover of her mind by the disease.


The novel parallels Alice’s journey: after her diagnosis, there is no path for her other than dementia. As you read, you hope that somehow the plot will be derailed — the diagnosis is wrong, a treatment is found, Alice somehow defies nature.


This book connects strongly with the reader on an emotional level, but also offers an opportunity to learn. The author, Lisa Genova, has a PhD in neuroscience and bases the story on her research. Still Alice seeks to tell the truth about Alzheimer’s disease as much as it seeks to tell Alice’s story. The book succeeds on both levels, offering the reader insights into the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on individuals, family and friends.


Still Alice is a great read, and not just for those who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease in their lives. With a discussion guide at the end of the book and numerous themes to discuss, it is also well-suited to a reading club.