However, this book is awesome, and it is one of the best books I’ve read this year, if you stop listening or reading when the story should end. In fact, I was thinking about how sad and awesome that ending was when I heard “Epilogue.” come out of Lisa Genova’s mouth (she reads the audiobook version). So I’m just going to pretend the epilogue didn’t happen and tell you about the rest.
This is definitely the Alzheimer’s novel my previous book club should have read. So it is fitting that I’ve read it for my current book club, which hasn’t met yet so I can’t tell you what they think. But for me, it was amazing.
Well, not at the beginning. The beginning part, the background part, was kind of boring to me — it sets the scene of a high-achieving Harvard linguistics professor, Alice, and her equally high-achieving husband who is growing more and more estranged from her, and their kids, one of whom has pretty much totally written off Mom and has Dad helping her out behind Mom’s back. And it feels like Genova, a neuroscientist by day, is just trying way too hard to be deep and meaningful about everything.
But then we get to the important and scary part of the story, which is that Alice starts forgetting things — a word here, an assignment there, how to get home from practically around the corner. Like anyone (well, I) would, she denies her problem until she can’t anymore and finds out that she has early-onset Alzheimer’s, at the age of 50. I’ve seen regular Alzheimer’s in my family, and I can’t even imagine having it at 50.
Well, no, now I can, because this book is told from Alice’s point of view, generally as it happens so that the reader can watch her do something and forget it, and sometimes do it again and forget it, all while being otherwise extremely intelligent and rational. Listening to this book made me incredibly aware of any time I would forget anything, which is a regular occurrence in my brain, and wonder what that would be like on a much larger scale. Terrifying, I think.
And deeply depressing. I had to listen to Alice step down from her job, give up her running, start forgetting her children, and attempt to maintain control of her brain without exploding. I am tearing up a little just thinking about this book, which I finished a week ago, and of course last week at work I was just hoping no one would walk by my desk and see my depressed face. That would have been fun to explain.
I absolutely can’t wait to talk about this at my book club, especially with those people who are a bit closer to 50 than I am…
Recommendation: Absolutely recommended, but only when you’re in a mood to be depressed and worried.
Rating: 9/10 (I really hated that epilogue.)
(A to Z Challenge)