Still Alice Book Club discussion questions

Still Alice by Lisa Genova is available as one of the Gold Coast Libraries’ Book Club kits.

**Please be aware that book discussion questions may contain spoilers**

Synopsis:

When 50 year old Harvard professor Alice Howland, is unable to remember a particular word during a well practiced speech, she puts it down to having had a couple of glasses of alcohol. Other minor forgetfulness such as mislaying her blackberry and phone charger and getting flight times and days wrong she attributes to her busy work schedule. But when Alice forgets how to get home, while on her daily run, she comes to the realisation that she has a problem and seeks medical help.  A barrage of intrusive and cognitive tests results in Alice being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. The diagnosis is devastating to Alice and her family as there is no cure or effective treatment for the disease.

Alice’s inevitable memory and cognitive decline is told from Alice’s perspective with added insight from the reactions of her family and friends. The terrifying stripping away of self as the disease progresses is evident in Alice’s inability to follow a conversation, read a book or find her way in her own home. Relationships are changed and the task of finding meaning and purpose in her life becomes a daily struggle.

 

Discussion Questions:

1. Still Alice is Lisa Genova’s debut novel. It has proven to be very successful, with a movie version currently in production. Originally the author struggled to find an agent or publisher due to the perceived lack of appeal of the subject matter of the book. Why do you think this book has found such universal appeal?

2.  Alice’s relationship with her husband and children changes over the course of the book. Were you surprised by John’s response to her disease? Why do you think he reacted the way he did? What changes did you notice in Alice’s relationship with her children?

3. Why do you think Alice didn’t tell John about her disorientation in Harvard Square? How do you think you would react if a similar situation happened to you?

4. Alice devices a set of questions that she must answer each day. Failure to answer the questions means that she must then follow her step by step suicide plan. What do you think of Alice’s suicide attempt? Do you think her family would have understood or approved?

5. Along with memory loss Alice’s experiences physical deterioration. What are some of the physical changes? and what is the impact of these changes to Alice and her family?

6. Alice’s attends a support group where the members discuss how their reputations suffered prior to their diagnoses. Do you think that preserving their legacies is one of the biggest concerns to people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease?

7. As the disease progresses Alice’s independence and ability to make decisions is reduced. What examples are there of people still respecting Alice’s wishes, and at what times is she ignored?

8. Each of Alice’s children have to decide if they will take the genetic test for the mutation that causes Alzheimer’s. Why do you think Lydia decides not to take it? Would you take the test?

 

Review on Good Reads

Review on Book Browse

Lisa Genova’s website