Tag Archives: Still Alice

Book Club Reflection: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

7 Nov

Our group met to talk about Still Alice on Halloween so it as a bit shorter of a discussion than we usually have. We also picked our next set of books which ate up a lot of time. It was bittersweet for me because due to my classes next semester, I’ll be missing the February, March, and April meetings! Sad puppy face.

I wasn’t the only one who felt this book wasn’t very well written. It seemed jerky which, while more appropriate at the end, didn’t make sense at the beginning. It was nice to be inside Alice’s head, though. We could see things happening to her that she sometimes couldn’t see herself.

Alice’s three children finding out if they were carriers was a sticking point for a lot of us. Would Tom have had ‘survivor’s guilt’ for not being a carrier when he knows Anna is and that Lydia might be? He seemed to disappear from the book a bit so it’s hard to tell but we felt it would be hard for him. Genetic testing like the children went has been around for years, some of our members remembering it back to the 1970s. We wondered about the impact of the testing on Anna and Lydia’s insurance rates. Would they have trouble getting coverage? Would it be different for Anna who knows or Lydia who doesn’t? I wondered if knowing she was a carrier affected Anna’s dedication to starting a family. She knows that her children will have to go through what she’s going through with Alice and how hard it will be. Is it better to have children who can help take care of her? I thought that would be hard for her and her husband.

John kept trying to fix everything. He wanted to do what he knew, study and research and was determined it would fix his wife. A few in our group suspected he was having an affair at the beginning with how dedicated he was to be out of the house and how much he avoided Alice. I still think he might have been. But he was a bit underdeveloped so we don’t know much for sure.

When Alice’s Blackberry stopped working, she cried as if on some level she knew what she was losing. She was so close to the level where she couldn’t answer the questions and in reality had gotten some of them wrong already. She seemed to know she was losing something about herself. We noticed that John seemed to have found the questions because on page 266 (our copy), he asks her the questions. If he got her phone working or if he found the Butterfly file, we’re not sure, but he seemed really concerned about Alice not wanting to be around anymore. What would he have done if she said she didn’t want to be there?

One of our members recommended The 36-Hour Day by Nancy Mace as a non-fiction account of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient. This book was unique in sharing from the side of the patient instead of the caregiver and that novelty was appreciated.

Our next meeting is in December and we’ll be discussing The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante. I’m about 1/4 through it now so I’ll be done well in time for the discussion.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

‘Still Alice’ Movie- Even more heart wrenching than the book.

31 Oct
Movie Poster via Wikipedia

Movie Poster via Wikipedia

This wasn’t a book I was planning on reading nor a movie I was planning on watching. Yay for book clubs. The copies we got from the library were movie-covered copies so I realized immediately that there was a movie with Julieanne Moore. I’m a big fan of hers so I was excited to jump in and see the character she brought to life for an award.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

 

Alice’s change. Seeing her change, the physical aspects of it, was really jarring. It was most obvious when she watched the video she’d made before the illness got really bad. The calm collected, rational Alice on the computer was so different from the frantic, slow-speaking Alice watching the video. It really brought home for me how life-altering the disease was. The last scene particularly was heart wrenching.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

 

Alice looked completely different. Genova describes Alice as having short, black, curly hair several times and I thought this would bother me as I watched the movie but I was really OK with it.

Tom having a bigger role. After Tom tested negative, he didn’t have much of a role in the book. The focus was on Alice’s relationship with Lydia and Anna’s struggles accepting her future and raising a family. I liked that movie Tom came back for Alice’s speech as her main support system. That gave him a lot more standing.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

The support group. I thought Alice’s support group showed really well that her decline was faster than most and highlighted her change as compared to others. It was really powerful to see Alice organize a group of people who suffered from the same disease and see them all come together in such a way.

 

Things That Changed Too Much

 

Jack. In the book, he was obviously trying to cure Alzheimer’s and spent a lot of time away from Alice for research and to escape the pain it caused him to watch his wife change. He was a lot less sympathetic in the film where he seemed removed and self-centered with no major pressure to try and cure the illness stealing his wife from him.

It’s been a while since I could read and watch the same story so immediately. In both the movie and the book, this did feel like it was more about raising awareness for Alzheimer’s than it was about the story. There were a lot of elements that highlighted the disease as a whole and though there was a ton of focus on Alice, I felt the amount about Alzheimer’s treatments was a bit forced. Reader, have you see the Still Alice movie? What did you think?

Until next time, write on.

WWW Wednesday, 26-October-2016

26 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Cat DancingCurrently reading: I think I got through one chapter of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I’m still enjoying this one even though I’m going through it so slowly. I always read ebooks slowly so this is no surprise.
Still on hold with World Without End by Ken Follett. Ugh.
I was able to start Stiff by Mary Roach on Friday. I introduced my coworker to audiobooks and he wanted to start this one during a work trip to Cleveland. We got through almost three hours of it and I’m going to show him how to get books on his phone so he can finish it himself. Yay!
I started The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing by Marilyn Durham. It’s more of a Western than I was expecting which is wonderful. I don’t remember the last time I read a Western and I’m really enjoying it!
I started the audiobook of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. This book focuses more on Zelda before the plot of Call Me Zelda so it will be interesting to listen to these two close to each other and compare the character.

bookofliesRecently finished: My book tidal wave came! I finished three this week. The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer was my latest finished, earlier this week. It was fun to listen to a thriller but it always seems like some things are too convenient in this genre and it bothers me from time to time. Overall, enjoyable. My review will come next week.
I finished Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck last Thursday. It was a little too over-dramatic for me at times and too slow at others. Overall, everything tied up well and I liked that but it wasn’t quite right for me. My review went up yesterday.
I finished Still Alice by Lisa Genova and have already watched the movie. Wow! The writing in this book was a little weak in places in my opinion, but the plot was great and I’m really amazed at Genova’s ability to write Alice. My review went up Monday.

Reading Next: I try not to do this, but I’m not going to put anything here this week. I’m just starting so many books, it’s hard to say when they’ll be over and I’m not anticipating anything just yet.


I have a class after work Wednesdays through November so please be patient with me due to delayed responses. I’m checking as often as I can.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova (4/5)

24 Oct

Somewhere in my brain, I’d heard of this movie. I knew it had Julianne Moore but that’s about all I knew. My book club picked it and I knew Alzheimer’s was involved so this wasn’t going to be a happy ending. I’m writing a book myself that has a major character with Alzheimer’s so I was interested to see how Genova handled this.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Summary from Goodreads:

Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life–and her relationship with her family and the world–forever.

Just reading the description, I knew this book wasn’t going to end well. There’s no fixing Alzheimer’s. I thought it was interesting to choose Alice as a narrator. It helped the reader feel the same confusion when Alice would forget someone’s name or that she had said something or what she was looking for. It also helped me sympathize with Alice and what she was going through rather than looking at someone who’s confused and acting irrational and wondering why they’re doing what they are. She’s not sitting there laughing to herself for no reason, she’s giggling at the geese and the silly things they’re doing. It was very pointed when John narrated and I’m glad it was thrown in because I’m not sure the reader could have processed what his voice gave us through Alice’s eyes.

From what I’ve read, Alice’s path through Alzheimer’s is not atypical but it’s hard to say what’s ‘normal’ or ‘standard’ in such a disease. I thought the ways her family reacted were representative of caregiver testimonial’s I’ve read. John wanted to ignore her and her daughters cared for her. Lydia didn’t want to get tested but Anna wanted to overcome something she might pass on. I thought it was really beautiful and showed a wide range of reactions.

Lydia was my favorite (only dampened when I found out who plays her in the movie). I liked that she was independent and followed what she wanted. She pretended she didn’t care what Alice thought but she really loved her mother and left her boyfriend in California to move back toward home and help her family. That got overlooked by Alice who forgot about him, but as a reader, I was able to remember it. I thought that showed Lydia’s strength well.

I related well to John. It’s hard to know what to do when someone is sick. When my parents have been ill (granted, not terminally), I had a hard time coping with ‘the new normal.’ What is life like now? Do I change everything or do I continue on like I would? I’m very practical in this sense, even in my work. I try not to be emotional about a single person but I double-guess myself about not feeling enough. I think John felt this way. He wanted to get away from things a little (like going to the lab) but attacked the problem very rationally.

Lisa Genova Image via USA Today

Lisa Genova
Image via USA Today

I thought Genova handled the later part of the book very well. It was painful to read some scenes through Alice’s eyes and know that she was suffering when she was unaware or to see her grow confused as her memories faded in and out. It was very well executed and it helped me go through the pain right along with Alice.

I felt the book was a bit jumpy, even before the majority of Alice’s memory failure. It would jump forward in time to when something important happened and gloss over the fact that she was able to go for long stretches with little or no issue. It was off-putting because I couldn’t tell how Alice was progressing for parts of the book.

 

Genova has an odd corner on the market writing about neurological disorders. I think it’s really great she’s using fiction to bring awareness to segments of the population largely underrepresented in fiction and ignored by society. It’s hard to understand someone who has Autism or Huntington’s disease or ALS. But it’s easier when it’s a fictional person and you’re reading through his or her eyes. I think reading helps open our minds to what others are going through and Genova has done this in a wonderful way with Alice. I’m excited to see the movie because Genova has praised Moore’s portrayal (well, she did win an Oscar).

Writer’s Takeaway: It had been a while since I read a book in third-person limited that had me aware of the limits of the narrator. Alice would meet someone and then thirty minutes later meet that person again like it was the first time. As the reader, you’re aware of it happening but you’re also aware that Alice is lost and a bit confused. It was very well-chosen and executed.

A great story with strong characters that only had me wishing for slightly tighter prose. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Book Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova | the incessant bookworm
Still Alice by Lisa Genova | Fill Your Bookshelf
Throwback Thursday: Still Alice by Lisa Genova | Going Through Books
Review: ‘Still Alice’ by Lisa Genova | bitter 20-something

WWW Wednesday, 19-October-2016

19 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


zeldaCurrently reading: No movement with In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment which might grant me a little bit of time coming up this week, but I’m, unfortunately, not hopeful. We’ll see how this goes!
Still on hold with World Without End by Ken Follett. I keep thinking about the story and I can’t wait to get the audio back!
I made decent progress on The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer as I did errands this past weekend. I’m hoping to get this done soon because I have some other audiobooks I really want to catch up on but I’m being realistic and I know a car audiobook will take me some time.
I’m really getting close to finishing Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck. I’m not a big fan of this one, to be honest. I’m kind of looking forward to it being over so I can move on to something I think I’ll enjoy more.
As many of you implied, Still Alice by Lisa Genova is great. I’m flying through it and I’m hoping to finish up soon so I can get on to some other titles but this is a great roller coaster to be on!

Recently finished: Nothing! I’m so sad about this. I really wanted to say I’d gotten through at least one of these titles, but no such luck! I’m hoping for a tidal wave of ‘finishing books’ to come in the next week and pack this section to the brim. Fingers crossed.

stiffReading Next: I’m still planning on Stiff by Mary Roach which is sitting on my bedside table and ready to be downloaded on my phone. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it either way but right now, audio is sounding better so I can grab some physical books off of my shelf.


I have a class after work Wednesdays through November so please be patient with me due to delayed responses. I’m checking as often as I can.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 12-October-2016

12 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


stillaliceCurrently reading: I read just a little bit of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I was hoping it would be more, but I think it was two chapters. Not too impressive.
Still on hold with World Without End by Ken Follett. I now have two people in front of me in line. I hope none of them end up checking it out!
I ended up carpooling to my conference over the weekend so I didn’t listen to much of The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer this week. I try to have it on in the car as much as possible but I’ll probably struggle to get through it. I have it on eaudio as well so if I finish my other book, I’ll pick this one up in that format.
I’ve made moderate progress with Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck, mostly from my runs. It’s not my favorite so far but I’m enjoying it enough. We’ll see how this goes.
I started  Still Alice by Lisa Genova on Sunday night. It seems like it will be a fast read so I’m hoping to get through it well before my book club meets.

Phew! What a list.

slade-houseRecently finished:I got through Slade House by David Mitchell on Friday and my review went up on Monday. I liked it more than I thought I would and it actually makes me want to read more Mitchell! I know, shock! After Cloud Atlas, I never thought that would happen. My book review went up on Monday so go check it out!

My book review of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz went up last Thursday. I enjoyed the book a lot so go check out my review. It got 4 out of 5 Stars from me.

stiffReading Next: My book club’s next pick is Stiff by Mary Roach. I’ll see if I can eaudio this one and maybe read a ‘for fun’ book from my TBR! It’s been a while since I knocked one of those out!


I have a class after work Wednesdays through November so please be patient with me due to delayed responses. I’m checking as often as I can.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 5-October-2016

5 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Before I start, know my mid-term is this evening after work so I probably won’t get to you all until tomorrow! So sorry.

bookofliesCurrently reading: I think I read one page of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. Yeah, it’s been a slow week for that. We’ll see what the next few weeks hold but I’m not too hopeful this will be a quick one.
Still on hold with World Without End by Ken Follett.
I still haven’t read much of Slade House by David Mitchell. It’s a little creepy so far which is always good for a fall book. It’s not reminding me of Cloud Atlas at all which is a good sign!
I started a new audiobook in the car which is The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer. This is a book where I own a signed copy and I’m very strict about my signed books leaving the house, so I thought it might be better to listen to it rather than limit myself traveling with it so much. I have a long car ride coming this weekend so I hope to get through a lot of it then.
But I still needed an audiobook on my phone so I started Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck. I feel weird about this one because I own the physical book but my shelf is so big that I feel like I’m never going to tackle it without resorting to audio on a few of these. It still feels weird.

aristotleRecently finished:I really enjoyed Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. It was just the YA break I needed from the serious literature and non-fiction I’ve been reading. It was fun and I really enjoyed it! Review coming soon.

My review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot went up last Thursday. I enjoyed the book a lot and was already able to discuss it with my book club. That post went up yesterday. I gave it Four out of Five stars.

stillaliceReading Next: The plan is still for Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I might squeeze another audiobook or two in before I start it. Or maybe I’ll listen to it on audio! I’ll figure something out.


I have a class after work Wednesdays through November so please be patient with me due to delayed responses. I’m checking as often as I can.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 28-September-2016

28 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


aristotleCurrently reading: I made some minor progress on In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson during my lunch breaks. I just passed 60% so maybe another two months? Haha. It’s really good, don’t get me wrong!
On hold with World Without End by Ken Follett.
I needed a new audiobook and I decided to give Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz a try. I’ve seen a lot of wonderful things about this book on others’ posts and I need some YA in my life. Great so far, I’m really loving it.
I finally started Slade House by David Mitchell. No opinion on if I like it yet. I’m hoping to speed through this one and make a little time for a book of my choice off my shelves. We’ll see if life will let that happen.

Henrietta LacksRecently finished: I finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot just in time for book club! I finished it Sunday night and we meet Mondays. Phew! I really enjoyed the story and I’ll have a review of it up tomorrow!
SuperFreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner was also a win for me. I loved the first one and this was equally enjoyable. My post went up yesterday so check that out and let me know if you had to suddenly go out and buy it.

stillaliceReading Next: I’m going to get a jump-start on my next book club book. We’re reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I’m a little iffy on this book because it seems like it might be really sad and I don’t want sad! Fingers crossed the ending doesn’t make me cry.


I have a class after work Wednesdays through November so please be patient with me due to delayed responses. I’m checking as often as I can.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!