My newspaper’s book club chose to read Still Alice by Lisa Genova this month.
In retrospect, I’m not sure it was the best selection.
That’s not to say it’s a terrible book. I think it is actually a great book that lends a deep understanding to how someone with Alzheimer’s is feeling as the disease begins to take over their lives.
However, this book is depressing for that very same reason.
As someone who has a relative with Alzheimer’s and will possibly have at least one parent with it before everything is said and done, this book was like a look into my future.
It was difficult to read at points, even though it gave me greater insight into how my relative must have felt when she first began forgetting things and not remembering who was with her.
I felt throughout much of the book like I was watching the story unfold as it will in my own life in the future. I’m only 25, but I’ve noticed that already I walk into rooms and forget why. I set things down and don’t remember where I put them. I have to write down my to-do lists and grocery lists because I tend to forget something on them.
Genova, who is a neuroscientist and treats patients with dementia and other similar diseases, addresses the impact of the disease on the family unit and the impact on the patient in a way that is easy to understand.
A person with Alzheimer’s is still a person. That’s the most important thing to remember.
I would be curious to read about this from the perspective of a family member. To read from John’s perspective, or Anna’s, as they grapple with the diagnosis of Alice and the impact that has on their daily lives and activities and the choices they make moving forward in life.
Genova’s book also provided a wealth of knowledge about Alzheimer’s, including information on genetic testing that can determine if a person will develop Alzheimer’s.
Would you get the test done? Could you live with the knowledge of knowing this disease will impact you at some point in the future? And that you have a 50 percent chance of passing it on to any children?
It’s a question I’ve thought about repeatedly in the last few days as I’ve read this book.
I appreciate the insight this book gave me, but it is a dark subject matter for a book club. Maybe next month, our book will be a bit more jovial.