My online book discussion group chose this book, and I'm so glad they did. The Alice of the title is Alice Howland, a 50-year-old respected psychology professor at Harvard, with a fellow-professor husband, John, and three adult children. She's busy with her career (teaching, research, and speaking engagements) and in good shape from her frequent running. She starts having small moments of forgetfulness, and on a run one day momentarily forgets the way home. She shrugs it off as early menopause, but as the symptoms worsen and she seeks medical help, she learns their cause: early-onset Alzheimer's.
In the next two years, Alice's condition rapidly deteriorates. The sad part is, because of her background, Alice knows what's going on. She participates in a trial for a new medication, and makes some decisions on her own about her career. Her illness has a genetic component, and it's interesting to read why her children do (or don't) decide to get tested. Her husband reacts in ways that are understandable in some aspects and puzzling in others. Reading this book is both sobering and heartbreaking.
Author Lisa Genova has a degree in neuroscience from Harvard herself, bringing insight to the story from Alice’s point of view. Genova initially self-published the book as she was told its appeal would be limited; ultimately the book reached the top ten in sales. The book has been endorsed by the National Alzheimer's Association, and is accurate in portraying the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and eventual outcome (currently) of early onset Alzheimer's. Makes me want to donate to help find a cure for this disease.
We had an excellent discussion of this book online, and I think it would be good for book clubs who can stomach the topic. Highly recommended.
© Amanda Pape - 2013
[This book was borrowed from and returned to my local public library.]