I am admittedly the Kathryn who may be a tad more on the “dead inside” end of the spectrum. Rarely do movies, books, songs, etc move me at tears. That being said, while Still Alice is a very poignant look into the interworking of a family as a disease tears them apart physically, mentally, and emotionally, I felt somewhat disconnected from it. Perhaps some of that disconnect was intentional on the part of Lisa Genova who writes in a decidedly third person perspective on a deeply personal disease. Perhaps we are meant to feel like outsiders as a way of sharing in Alice’s disconnect from her life, forced to be an outsider by her disease. Then again, perhaps I am over thinking it.
Looking back, I didn’t really love the writing style. Very staccato and foreshortened, it made for an easy read. Similarly, Genova did not spend much time expanding on somewhat played out archetypes in her characters. There is the daughter that is passionate but rebellious. There is the daughter that is straight and narrow but kind of a brat. There is the sometimes overbearing but well-intentioned mother. The father is hardworking but aloof. Also, there is a bonus son who helps round-out the family just by being present. Perhaps Genova is not one to flourish her works with mold breaking characters and linguistic stylistics that sometimes add to but often clog up one’s writing. Ultimately, though, I think this lent itself to the subject as the story and Alice’s decline is very rapid fire and intense. It may have been like taking a big bite of steak and chewing it all at once with one dry swallow if it had been more stylishly written.
While I didn’t particularly fall in love with Genova’s style, I do like the subtlety with which she built her metaphors. It was all hidden between the lines. Alice seemed driven to crack Lydia of her intense connection with make-believe. Alice believe in science, numbers, charts, data. She simply could not understand Lydia’s desire to act. In the end, after her memories were lost and she was no longer grounded in her prior reality of charts, numbers, and data did her bond with Lydia grow. Alice’s life was now like one of Lydia’s plays acted out in front of her by strangers cast as her family. Genova also challenges the readers to accept imperfect characters. John is the perfect imperfect scapegoat. He is a man easy to judge. How could he blah? Why didn’t he blah? Could you though? Truthfully?
All in all, not a book I would read again but a challenging subject.