I've been doing a lot of reading the last couple of months...Timberland Library's annual read-a-thon with gifts and prizes if you are lucky enough to be drawn (you must read at least 5 books and submit a brief description of each to be considered for the drawing). I consider that I have already won a prize, for I have read, "Still Alice" and am still reeling from the experience.
I hesitated about reading this work of fiction. The subject matter deals with a fifty-one year old woman with early onset Alzheimers. Since my father died with some form of dementia... Mom says it was Alzheimers....and his niece has suffered many years with it, I'm afraid it's in my gene pool, and so reading about someone with this condition was not going to help my outlook any.
But the book blew me away. It's told from Alice's perspective. She is a professor of languages at Harvard....bright, intelligent, active, exercises faithfully, eats well, good family life and an adoring husband...all the things we would hope would stave off this dreaded disease. But it just ain't so. Alice's life falls apart fast, even with the meds she takes, even with planning so carefully for what she knows is going to happen to her...and then forgetting her plans.
Alice's three children are given the option of testing to see if they carry the gene. One declines, two are tested. Of course that had me wondering what I would do. I didn't have to hesitate long. I would not do it. Have not done it. I don't think I'd want to live with the knowledge that my life and memories were going to be taken away from me in such a horrific way. But even without the testing, I know the possibility is real, and I have to stop myself from worrying about it.
This brilliantly written book, by author Lisa Genova, was beautiful, heartbreaking and terrifying at the same time. It contained no hope. I couldn't put it down. And I cried through most of it. It gives such insight into what it must be like to have Alzheimers, that I consider this a "must-read" for everyone.