I heard of the movie before I knew there was a book. But I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie and earlier last week I finished it. Recently I have been on a roll of reading amazing books and this has shot up my list of unputdownable books of 2015 (something I just made up right now). I borrowed it from my local library and eagerly read Alice’s story as she is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Alice is fifty, just fifty, when she is diagnosed and it shatters her world. She still has so much to do, so many books to write, students to teach, time to spend with her husband, and grandchildren to meet. With this diagnosis everything changes and Alice knows that her relationship with her family, her relationship with the world will change forever.
I don’t know how to express how I loved this book eloquently. I fell myself getting more and more invested in Alice’s journey and the author, Lisa Genova, wrote in such a way that the text was full of nuance and depth without being full of words. There was one scene when Alice’s children were arguing over whether she should remember something not – should she be exercising her memory or relying on her phone to remind her? This scene epitomised the conflict in the whole book – what is the best thing to do in this situation? The children hurt each other and talk over each other, but what was so powerful was that they were doing it in front of Alice, as if she wasn’t there, as if she didn’t have a say.
I loved Alice’s relationship with her family and reading how it changed, and how it didn’t change as her memory deteriorated. It is so obvious that Lisa Genova did a lot of research into Alzheimer’s and she used her knowledge so effectively. And sometimes devastatingly.
This is a story about identity when the very things that make your identity – your mind and your memories – start to change. I read and finished this book on the train and as I closed it, I realised that I was crying. I can’t recommend this book enough – get yourself a copy however you can.