Bioethics Blogs

Still Alice meets Still Gloria

Françoise Baylis reflects on the book Still Alice.

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Beverly Beckham of The Boston Globe writes in praise of Lisa Genova’s Still Alice “‘You have to get this book’ … I couldn’t put it down…”

After I read Still Alice, a book of fiction about an accomplished Harvard professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I too wanted to tell everyone to get this book (and I did once have a chance to do so in a radio interview with Rex Murphy), but not because “I couldn’t put it down”. The first time I read this book I put it down several times to stop and cry. It was too painful to read in one stretch. My mother – Gloria Baylis – had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Alice Howland’s story was both too familiar (in terms of what I already knew) and too revealing (in terms of what I did not yet know).

I first read this book in 2011 while living in New Zealand. Before I left my home in Halifax for Dunedin, I flew to Montreal to say goodbye to my mother who was by now a resident of Sunrise – a nursing home with a special program for persons with Alzheimer’s and memory difficulties. I took a taxi from the airport directly to the nursing home. I found my Mom wandering the hall, a common behaviour among persons with Alzheimer’s. She looked somewhat confused when she saw me, and stared at the travel suitcase I had with me.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.