It's not hard to see why this book won so many awards. In her debut novel, Lisa Genova thrills and horrifies us with her tale of a brilliant 50-year woman diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.
Alice is in the prime of her life, a Harvard professor of psycholinquistics. Even her exalted position in academia cannot keep her from falling prey to a disease that has no cure. From diagnosis to the time when Alice can no longer identify her children is too short. I cringed when she developed labels for the people in her life. It is heartbreaking to read Alice identify her daughters as 'the mother' and 'the actress' and her husband as the 'nice man who saved her'. I shed tears as this vibrant woman lost her memories and her ability to function in our fast paced world.
Ms. Genova portrays the fear and confusion of the Alzheimer patient as if she had experienced these symptoms. As a reader you feel the terror of being lost, of not being able to comprehend the words on the page, and the frustration of an unfulfilled suicide pact with her former self.
To lose the ability to read, converse and remember are terrifying to me. This is life at its essence.
I can't wait for Ms. Genova next book on Attention Deficit Disorder coming in January 2011 from Pocket Books. Should be another gut-wrenching story.