Dr. Alice Howland is a linguistics professor at Harvard University. She is wildly successful, well-respected and happily married to her intellectual equal.

Her biggest problem is that one of her adult children is pursuing acting rather than following in the family’s academic footsteps.

This all comes to a halt when Alice gets lost jogging on campus. Soon, she misses a flight to a conference, and she can’t pinpoint the name of the white butter that goes on bagels.

Alice is suffering from early onset Alzheimer's, and bit by bit, “Still Alice” charts the devastating disease’s effects on this family and the surprising moments of grace along the way.

Lisa Genova's book, which was made into a 2014 film starring Julianne Moore, easily gets inside the mind of a narrator who is ever becoming more and more unreliable, mounting drama with a slow-burn suspense as the danger to her career, her relationships, even her person, increases.

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It’s easy for readers to relate to the emotions and grief as Alice slips further from what she understood to be herself.

In one scene, Alice, her husband, John, and their actress daughter, Lydia, eat breakfast in their vacation home on the Cape. Alice processes the entirety of the conversation, but her mind is unable to grasp words in time to contribute.

But while parts of her memory are stripped, what remains is a prominent ability to understand emotion and connection.

As interactions with others leave Alice feeling confused and frustrated, she finds an unlikely ability to communicate with Lydia, whose training and ability to improvise is an invaluable asset.

Readers are forced to consider: “What would I do?”

“Still Alice” is a probing meditation on living in the moment. The grief is palpable, as is the love.

Title: “Still Alice”

Author: Lisa Genova

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 352

Melinda Lavine is a features reporter for the News Tribune. Write to her at mlavine@duluthnews.com.
Melinda Lavine is a features reporter for the News Tribune. Write to her at mlavine@duluthnews.com.