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Still Alice Book Summary

A Novel

by Lisa Genova

Still Alice

A Novel

Lisa Genova


Still Alice is a poignant and powerful novel that delves into the life of Alice Howland, a renowned linguistics professor at Harvard University, as she confronts the devastating diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The story follows Alice’s journey as she grapples with the progressive loss of her memory, identity, and independence, while navigating the complex emotional terrain of her changing relationships with her family and the world around her.

Table of contents

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Author & Writing Background

Lisa Genova holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University. Her background in science, coupled with her passion for storytelling, led her to write Still Alice, which became a critically acclaimed bestseller and was later adapted into an award-winning film. Genova’s writing is characterized by its scientific accuracy, emotional depth, and ability to capture the human experience of living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Key Takeaways

Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

The novel provides a realistic and insightful portrayal of the challenges faced by individuals diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, including memory loss, cognitive decline, and the impact on their personal and professional lives.

Identity and Personhood

As Alice’s disease progresses, she grapples with the loss of her identity and sense of self. The novel explores the profound questions of what defines us as individuals and how we maintain our personhood in the face of cognitive decline.

Family Relationships

The impact of Alzheimer’s on Alice’s relationships with her husband, children, and siblings is a central theme of the novel. It portrays the complex emotions of love, loss, and the challenges of caregiving.

Importance of Language

As a linguistics professor, Alice’s connection to language is deeply personal. The novel highlights the significance of language in shaping our thoughts, memories, and identity.

Coping Mechanisms

Alice develops various coping mechanisms to manage her disease, such as using technology, creating routines, and finding moments of joy and connection.

Advocacy and Awareness

The novel raises awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and the importance of research, support, and understanding for individuals and families affected by it.

Living in the Present

Despite the challenges, Alice learns to cherish the present moment and find meaning in her life, even as her memories fade.

The Power of Love

The unwavering love and support of Alice’s family provide her with strength and comfort throughout her journey.

FAQ about Still Alice

Is Still Alice based on a true story?

While Still Alice is a work of fiction, Lisa Genova drew inspiration from her grandmother’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease and her own scientific background to create a realistic and moving portrayal of the condition.

What is the significance of the title Still Alice?

The title reflects the central theme of the novel, which is Alice’s struggle to maintain her identity and sense of self despite the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s disease. It emphasizes that even as her cognitive abilities decline, she remains the same person at her core.

How accurate is the portrayal of Alzheimer’s disease in the novel?

Lisa Genova’s background in neuroscience ensures that the depiction of Alzheimer’s disease in Still Alice is scientifically accurate and grounded in real-life experiences.

Still Alice Quotes

  • “I miss myself.”
  • “The disease might hide the person underneath, but there’s still a person in there who needs your love and attention.”
  • “I don’t want to lose my past. I want to keep it with me, even if it’s only in my head.”