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Authors: Lisa Genova

Still Alice

BOOK: Still Alice
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“After I read
Still Alice,
I wanted to stand up and tell a train full of strangers, ‘You have to get this book.’…I couldn’t put it down….
Still Alice
is written not from the outside looking in, but from the inside looking out…. [It] isn’t only about dementia. It’s about Alice, a woman beloved by her family and respected by her colleagues, who in the end, is still Alice, not just her disease.”

—Beverly Beckham,
The Boston Globe


“Still Alice
is a heartbreakingly real depiction of a woman’s descent into early Alzheimer’s, so real, in fact, that it kept me from sleeping for several nights. I couldn’t put it down. As a part-time caregiver to a parent with dementia, I can say that Dr. Genova’s depiction seems spot-on, from the subtle changes in everyday life to the ultimate changes in both patient and family.
Still Alice
is a story that must be told.”

—Brunonia Barry,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Lace Reader


“At once agonizing and engrossing, this tale of brilliant Harvard psychology professor Alice Howland’s descent into dementia grabs you from the first misfired neuron. With the clinician’s precision of language and the master storyteller’s easy eloquence, Lisa Genova shines a searing spotlight on this Alice’s surreal wonderland. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to read this book. It will inform you. It will scare you. It will change you.”

—Julia Fox Garrison, author of
Don’t Leave Me This Way


“I wish I could have read Lisa Genova’s masterpiece before my dad passed away following a ten-year struggle with Alzheimer’s. I would have better understood and appreciated what was unfolding in his confused and ravaged mind…. This book is as important as it is impressive and will grace the lives of those affected by this dread disease for generations to come.”

—Phil Bolsta, author of
Sixty Seconds


“An intensely intimate portrait of Alzheimer’s seasoned with highly accurate and useful information about this insidious and devastating disease.”

—Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, coauthor of
Decoding Darkness: The Search for the Genetic Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease


“Genova has brilliantly captured the subjective experience in this intimate story…. Touching and informative.”

—Daniel Kuhn, author of
Alzheimer’s Early Stages: First Steps for Families, Friends, and Caregivers


“An ironic look at complicated family relationships, our hopes for future generations, and the essence of life…. Whether or not you or someone in your family has dementia,
Still Alice
is a great read.”

The Tangled Neuron


“Powerful, insightful, tragic, inspirational…and all too true. Genova has the great gift of insight, imagination, and expression that allows her to pry open the fortress door and tell a story from a perspective seldom spoken…. Her revealing insights into these deeply personal experiences show true empathy and understanding not only of cognitive neuroscience and dementia, but also of the human condition.”

—Alireza Atri, M.D., Ph.D., Neurologist, Massachusetts General Hospital, Memory Disorders Unit


“The experience of Alzheimer’s disease is a process of discovery. Readers, along with Alice, are artfully and realistically led through this process, moving from the questions and concerns that accompany unexplained memory difficulties to the experience of diagnosis and the impact of Alice’s changing needs on relationships with her family and colleagues.”

—Peter Reed, Ph.D., Senior Director of Programs, Alzheimer’s Association


“Dementia is dark and ugly. Only a writer with a mastery of neuroscience and the grit, the
of an actor with Meisner training could get both the facts and the feelings right—the way I live it daily.
Still Alice
is a laser precise light into the lives of people with dementia and the people who love them.”

—Carole Mulliken, cofounder of DementiaUSA

Pocket Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2007, 2009 by Lisa Genova

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Information from the Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire was taken with permission from “The Record of Independent Living” by Sandra Weintraub, Ph.D., in the
American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementia,
Vol. 1, No. 2, 35–39 (1986), a SAGE publication.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Genova, Lisa.
     Still Alice / Lisa Genova.
         p. c.m.
1. Alzheimer’s disease—Fiction. 2. Women college teachers—Fiction. I. Title.
     PS3607.E55S75 2008
     813'.6—dc22                                                      2008030986

ISBN-13: 978-1-4391-5703-9
ISBN-10: 1-4391-5703-0

Visit us on the World Wide Web:

In Memory of Angie


For Alena


I’m deeply grateful to the many people I’ve come to know through the Dementia Advocacy and Support Network International and DementiaUSA, especially Peter Ashley, Alan Benson, Christine Bryden, Bill Carey, Lynne Culipher, Morris Friedell, Shirley Garnett, Candy Harrison, Chuck Jackson, Lynn Jackson, Sylvia Johnston, Jenny Knauss, Jaye Lander, Jeanne Lee, Mary Lockhart, Mary McKinlay, Tracey Mobley, Don Moyer, Carole Mulliken, Jean Opalka, Charley Schneider, James Smith, Jay Smith, Ben Stevens, Richard Taylor, Diane Thornton, and John Willis. Your intelligence, courage, humor, empathy, and willingness to share what was individually vulnerable, scary, hopeful, and informative have taught me so much. My portrayal of Alice is richer and more human because of your stories.

I’d especially like to thank James and Jay, who have given me so much beyond the boundaries of Alzheimer’s and this book. I am truly blessed to know you.

I’d also like to thank the following medical professionals, who generously shared their time, knowledge, and imagina
tions, helping me to gain a true and specific sense for how events might unfold as Alice’s dementia is discovered and progresses:

Dr. Rudy Tanzi and Dr. Dennis Selkoe for an in-depth understanding of the molecular biology of this disease

Dr. Alireza Atri for allowing me to shadow him for two days in the Memory Disorders Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, for showing me your brilliance and compassion

Dr. Doug Cole and Dr. Martin Samuels for additional understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s

Sara Smith for allowing me to sit in on neuropsychological testing

Barbara Hawley Maxam for explaining the role of the social worker and Mass General’s Caregivers’ Support Group

Erin Linnenbringer for being Alice’s genetic counselor Dr. Joe Maloney and Dr. Jessica Wieselquist for role-playing as Alice’s general practice physician



Thank you to Dr. Steven Pinker for giving me a look inside life as a Harvard psychology professor and to Dr. Ned Sahin and Dr. Elizabeth Chua for similar views from the student’s seat.

Thank you to Dr. Steve Hyman, Dr. John Kelsey, and Dr. Todd Kahan for answering questions about Harvard and life as a professor.

Thank you to Doug Coupe for sharing some specifics about acting and Los Angeles.

Thank you to Martha Brown, Anne Carey, Laurel Daly,
Kim Howland, Mary MacGregor, and Chris O’Connor for reading each chapter, for your comments, encouragement, and wild enthusiasm.

Thank you to Diane Bartoli, Lyralen Kaye, Rose O’Donnell, and Richard Pepp for editorial feedback.

Thank you to Jocelyn Kelley at Kelley & Hall for being a phenomenal publicist.

An enormous thank-you to Beverly Beckham, who wrote the best review any self-published author could dream of. And you pointed the way to Julia Fox Garrison.

Julia, I cannot thank you enough. Your generosity has changed my life.

Thank you to Vicky Bijur for representing me and for insisting that I change the ending. You’re brilliant.

Thank you to Louise Burke, John Hardy, Kathy Sagan, and Anthony Ziccardi for believing in this story.

I need to thank the very large and loud Genova family for shamelessly telling everyone you know to buy your daughter’s/niece’s/cousin’s/sister’s book. You’re the best guerrilla marketers in the world!

I also need to thank the not as large but arguably just as loud Seufert family for spreading the word.

Last, I’d like to thank Christopher Seufert for technical and web support, for the original cover design, for helping me make the abstract tangible, and so much more, but mostly, for giving me butterflies.

BOOK: Still Alice
4.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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