Friday, February 19, 2010

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

I was standing in the line at the grocery store on Tuesday evening. There are always about 5 books featured there. I saw this book. I picked it up and looked at it. It looked like a good book but it was $10.00 Canadian funds for a paperback book! I'm trying really hard to stay within a budget. I told myself I could check at the library for it, I told myself I could check on Amazon or Chapters for it. We have a Chapters card that gives us 15% off books. But the library might not have it and if I ordered it from Amazon I'd have to pay shipping. To get it from Chapters cheaper I'd have to drive into Richmond to get it. Still I tried to resist. The clerk started to ring up my purchases. My hand flew to the book and threw it on with my other things before she finished. I HAD to have this book. I had no idea why.

It's now Friday morning. I've finished the book and I know why I had to have it. It's one of the best books I've read in a very long time. I couldn't put it down. I felt so guilty sitting and reading but I just couldn't let it go... just one more chapter... then one more. I think I need a bookaholics anonymous meeting, if there was such a thing. It's not that reading is a bad thing to do, it's that I read so fast that it gets to be a very expensive thing if I don't get the books from the library.

Still Alice is about a Psychology Professor at Harvard. She has a PhD. She's written numerous articles and books and is constantly travelling to conferences, quite often as a speaker. She's very intelligent and very gifted.

She's 50 years old. She finds herself unable to retrieve words sometimes. That happens to all of us at one time or another once we reach a certain age. She thought it was menopause. She tried ignoring it until one day she was out running and she got lost 2 blocks from home. She recognized the buildings around her, she just didn't know which way was home from there. She reluctantly made a visit to her GP... maybe she needed HRT.  From there she was sent to a Neurologist, although she couldn't understand why.

The Neurologist diagnosed her with Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease.

This book is about her journey. We, the reader, can see the things she's doing that would give others clues that there was something wrong. She doesn't see it in herself, of course. She tries to hide it. She doesn't want to tell her husband or coworkers. Naturally she eventually has to.

The book starts in September of 2003 and goes to September 2005. No one can know what goes on in the mind of someone with dementia or Alzheimers. Lisa Genova is an extremely talented writer and I believe that what she perceives as likely is very close to the truth.. the ability to think but not to get the words out, not recognizing even herself, thinking that she is living 40 years ago. Her long term memory is very clear, her short term memory doesn't even allow her to remember her children's names or even that they are her children eventually.

But she is loved. I think that's what I like best about the book. Even when she can remember nothing else she is surrounded by love.

I was sorry to see the book end and to have to say goodbye to Alice. There wasn't much more to say about her but just reading about her day to day life, how she processed things around her I found fascinating.

Off to the library to get a new book now.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Endless Chain by Emilie Richards

I didn't know when I read Emilie Richards book Wedding Ring that I was reading the first of a series called the Shenandoah Album series. I think I read somewhere that she didn't realize she was writing a series either so that makes us even *LOL*

This book could easily stand alone but it was so nice to see characters from the first book appear now and then, and in one case become a major part of the story.

This book is about a disgraced preacher who has been given the church at Tom's Book, Virginia, in order to prove himself worthy of a second chance at a better church in a more populated area.. at least that's how I saw it. But Sam doesn't want another church, he's making progess here and making a difference here getting the local native Virginia's to accept and help more newly arrived Mexican workers and their children.

That is what I saw as the crux of the story... Sam's spoiled high society fiance has difficulty with his choice of lifestyle. A new arrival in the area, Elise, is everything that his fiance isn't. She's a hard worker but very secretive. She lets eveyone believe she is from Texas, although she is clearly of Latin American descent, and that's why her English is so good. It turns out she has an unknown past history connection to Tom's Brook and that is why she chose it. She's looking for her younger brother who is also on the run and hopes that he will remember about this small community and show up there looking for her.

I'm not giving any more hints to what it's about but I read through this one very quickly and  have Emile Richard's next installment, Lover's Knot, on request at my local library.