Still Thinking About This Book
What a beautiful, tragic story about early-onset Alzheimer's Disease.
Alice Howland, Ph.D., is a respected cognitive psychology professor at Harvard who begins experiencing memory problems. At first she chalks up slow word retrieval or other lapses to menopause, but when she forgets the way home on a running path she's taken countless times before, she knows something is terribly wrong.
When Alice's neuropsychologist confirms the diagnosis of Alzheimer's, Alice awaits the devastating mental and emotional decline affecting not only her, but also her husband and three grown children.
Alice is only 50 years old.
Many joke that they're getting Alzheimers when they misplace their keys or glasses. But what they really need to worry about is forgetting the face of a loved one. And it's no joking matter when Alice battles the amyloid plaque gumming up her brain.
My favorite part of the story is the realistic portrayal of her family and their response to Alice's illness. She's married to another Harvard professor, John. Predictably, John develops a wealth of knowledge about symptoms and treatment, but struggles to support his wife emotionally. Alice's older daughter is a married attorney trying to get pregnant. Her son is a bright medical student at Harvard. And her younger daughter is a budding actress living in L.A., much to Alice's chagrin.
Discovering that each child had a 50% chance of inheriting the gene causing early-onset Alzheimer's is horrifying. I don't know how Anna can cope. I don't know how Lydia makes the choice she does either.
For Alice's 51st birthday, her family gets her such a thoughtful gift:Lydia presented Alice with a small, rectangular package wrapped in gold paper. It must have been big in significance. Alice untaped the paper. Inside were three DVDs.
"It's a video memoir for you. The Howland Kids is a collection of interviews of Anna, Tom, and me. It's our memories of you and our childhoods and growing up. The one with Dad is of his memories of meeting you and dating and your wedding and vacations and lots of other stuff."
What a lovely gift for an individual with severe memory problems.
I also liked how the author never fully explained the outcome of Alice's plan to take care of business, instead letting the reader figure out what happened.
This was an emotional read I highly recommend.