Neuroscientist and debut novelist Genova mines years of experience in her field to craft a realistic portrait of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alice Howland has a career not unlike Genova’s-she’s an esteemed psychology professor at Harvard, living a comfortable life in Cambridge with her husband, John, arguing about the usual (making quality time together, their daughter’s move to L.A.) when the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin to emerge. First, Alice can’t find her Blackberry, then she becomes hopelessly disoriented in her own town. Alice is shocked to be diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s (she had suspected a brain tumor or menopause), after which her life begins steadily to unravel. She loses track of rooms in her home, resigns from Harvard and eventually cannot recognize her own children. The brutal facts of Alzheimer’s are heartbreaking, and it’s impossible not to feel for Alice and her loved ones, but Genova’s prose style is clumsy and her dialogue heavy-handed. This novel will appeal to those dealing with the disease and may prove helpful, but beyond the heartbreaking record of illness there’s little here to remember.
“The clock is running.
Make the most of today.
Time waits for no man.
Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is a mystery.
Today is a gift.
That’s why it is called the PRESENT.”
– excerpt from the 1902 book,”Sun Dials and Roses of Yesterday: Garden Delights…” by Alice Morse Earle