Book review: Still Alice By Lisa Genova

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Hey everybody!

Back again.

You were expecting me to be away for a lot longer? Honestly, so was I, but I’ve got these long overdue book reviews that keep eyeballing me and I wanted to write them up before I go mad.

In general terms, the book review is positive and the negatives aren’t really negative or critical, they are instead, along the lines of optimistic thoughts.

“But you’re a bit late to the party Lex.”

Yes, I’m well aware. But better late than never, eh? Besides, there’s no chance of me providing the spoilers because most have in fact read it.

In terms of positives, there are plentiful so I’m just going to pick out three important points.

Firstly, the idea that the book is from Alice’s (the main character) perspective is the most important point of the story as it shows a deep level of sympathy and understanding which the reader can empathise. Also, it makes the story a whole lot more personal and therefore the disease a lot more cruel. I’ll be honest, I don’t know an awful lot on the subject of Alzeheimers and this book has led me to do a bit more research into it, but everything I’ve thus far read always talks about the shock at the disease’s progress on loved ones and friends. I’m glad that someone has taken the time to properly research and write a book about a subject which is slowly becoming less taboo. It is important in everyone’s culture to start the conversation and slowly come to terms with accepting it. The main reason why it is so taboo is because it is a frightening concept trying to accept that the person you love the most, will not only forget who you are and that you ever existed but whose personality will disappear first before they physically do. It cannot be emphasised enough that we have to talk about this issue, not just for ourselves but for those researching and attempting to find cures.

Secondly, the italics crop up when we least expect it but it has served as a useful reminder of just how shocking, and how much of a reality shock it can be. They do have the same tests here in the UK, but the general consensus here is that perhaps these test don’t work. Either that or it isn’t clear what these tests prove. However with this book, the difference is obvious and I can understand why it has been used as a literary device.

Thirdly, the repetitive sentence structure works really well, although in relatively normal circumstances would not work and found quite irritating to the reader.  The use of this literary device (if one can call it that) is gradual and to most of us we don’t notice it until we get to the end of the book. Towards the end of the book it feels rather routine and normal.

On the other hand, the other criticism I have of this (again, it’s not intended to be overly negative just some thoughts for future research for writers in the future) is although there were characters who did have other types of Alzheimers, and there was a general gist of their stories, it lacked a lot of detail. For me, it felt as though it was scratching the surface and there was so much more to be discovered about what they have and thus almost entirely focused on Alice and what she has. On reflection, this is as much about perspective as it is about anything else. There is a lot more research still to be done on the subject and its causes as we all still have a lot of gaps in our knowledge. The more we know, the more rounded a view we will have on Alzheimers.

This leads me on to my last point. It has come to mind that perhaps now we need more writers like Genova who will write about the different types of dementia whether in fiction or non-fiction. It would be good to see these different types of dementia portrayed from other perspectives and in particular how it affects the family of the person with dementia.

Find the book on Amazon US here

Find the book on Amazon UK here

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Find me on Goodreads here

Speak soon,

LexC

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Prince’s Trust: Day 53 (Friday 16th June 2017)

Hey everybody,

Finally, the last day of The Prince’s Trust Team Programme. What a 12 weeks it has been!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am knackered.

However, I am excited about the next thing which happens to be another programme called ‘Foot In The Door’. The launch was on Monday 19th June. Hopefully, it will help get me into the creative arts sector. Its definitely time for something new.

Whilst it’s been fun to do a daily blog (on the whole) for this, I think I’ll keep it simple and book-related whether that means writing balanced book reviews (with a slight hint of that sarcasm I mentionned in an earlier blog post), or giving you hints about my other bigger current writing project which you will have to wait for because it isn’t finished. Keep your eye out for some guest blogs as well. They’ll be appearing sooner than you think.

I’m looking forward to getting back to what I had on the back burner whilst I was on this course.

More than ever, I am determined to get a job and I will do whatever I can to get one with renewed vigour.

After having seen the last day though, I can categorically say that I wasn’t expecting to feel much emotion. I didn’t cry but it did feel bittersweet.

That’s all for now… until next time.

 

LexC

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Prince’s Trust: Day 52 (Thursday 15th June 2017)

Hey everybody,

The penultimate day began with showing family members my speech at the presentation. Later, I joined the rest of the team at one of the college’s, but got lost looking for them because I went to the wrong one. Whoops. When I arrived at the right one, I had to do the Maths and English exams again that we did right at the start.

I’ll be honest I was disappointed in the results as I could have done better. For those who want to know:

I scored 58% in the level 1 English.

I scored 80% in the level 1 Maths.

You might be thinking “Hang on a minute Lex, why are you disappointed in those results?”

These are the equivalents of GCSE’s. I got a B in both for my efforts (although don’t ask me about the maths one – I still haven’t figured that one out yet). I have an English honours degree, I can’t be getting 58% in situations like these. Looks like I’ll have to revise those english grammar rules all over again (in which case, I’m heading back to French class to relearn them all – yes, French class, because ladies and gents, that’s where I learnt all the english grammar rules). British schools either cannot be bothered to teach them or they simply don’t teach these grammar rules.

That’s all for now.

Speak soon,

 

LexC

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Prince’s Trust: Day 50 (Tuesday 13th June 2017); Day 51 (Wednesday 14th June 2017)

Hey everybody,

As both days concern the same thing, I thought it would be best if I wrote about them on the same blog post.

On Tuesday, we spent the entire day rehearsing our speeches and a practicing a run-through. We were all really struggling to get through them and I wanted to help out my fellow teammates, but for reasons which I cannot disclose I was unable to.

On Wednesday, today we start at 3pm. By the time the group get together most have lost interest but they keep going despite it. The Team go to the ground to do another rehearsal but I had to have a break and stay relaxed. Why? I felt I’d have gone mad if I practiced anymore.

The night went well, although I realise now that I blabbed a bit too much about the ‘Before’ stuff than anything else. Everyone delivered their speeches really well, some better than others even though some asked to have us stood next to them for support. The nerves were still crippling in most of us – I hold my hand up and say I was one of them. I should have stuck to my guns and followed through with my plan to help the team irrespective of the consequences.

That’s all for now.

Speak soon,

 

LexC

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Prince’s Trust: Day 49 (Monday 12th June 2017)

Hey everybody,

Back again! I know you’re probably tired of me but I’ve finally got around to writing up the final week of the Prince’s Trust. There will be time for reflection but for now let’s just get on with it!?

On this day, we had two guest speakers (one from a bank and the other from a transport company) called Seb and Paul, who came in to talk to us about presentations. When we made our introductions of ourselves, we had to give Seb and Paul something we wanted to get out of the session and an interesting fact about ourselves. I’m not going to go into great detail about what was said because most of it is private and I don’t want to overstep the line. The desires, however, were pretty much all the same: confidence. Unfortunately, confidence is the only thing that as individuals we can give to ourselves. If that wasn’t the case, I’d have done all I could to give it to the rest of the Team.

We spent the session trying to sell each other a whiteboard marker or a dictionary. No, I didn’t get the dictionary otherwise it would have been a walk in the park. Perhaps that was a good thing – there’s nothing wrong with a challenge. Something to do to step out of our comfort zone. Obviously the exercise was as boring as, but if we could manage to sell either of these things then we could most likely be able to sell ourselves on our presentation night.

The concept of the exercise was not new to me like it was to the rest of the group. The idea of selling ourselves and our skills as a product has been highlighted to me long before I started Team programme. The most recent time being when we did our mock interviews a few weeks ago. The session itself highlighted to me just how much the team still needed help with their confidence long after Seb and Paul had gone.

This last week was going to be a tough but necessary gig.

That’s all for now.

Speak soon,

 

LexC

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Prince’s Trust: Day 47 (Thursday 8th June 2017); Day 48 (Friday 9th June 2017)

Hey everybody,

On the Wednesday evening, I sat down to properly write my speech as we didn’t have long. I’ll be honest I was nervous. My original idea was really bad – I’m not going to lie. With that being said I stuck to what I do best, tell stories. In my neck of the woods, it could mean one of two things: a) I tell fibs (they aren’t lies but near enough, I suppose) or  b) someone who actually tells stories. There are some on this Earth who could argue that I’m guilty of both counts – but let’s not go there. Another story for another time.

Thursday, we started planning our speeches for the Wednesday. I have my plan, but for the purposes of gaining our Prince’s Trust qualification I’ll have to write down the entire thing. In full.

It goes without saying that as well as our ‘Before’, ‘During’ and ‘After’ the course, it would be really good to include humour. In a sense, Team 125 has had a problem with my sense of humour – not many understood sarcasm. Especially dark dry sarcasm. Don’t believe me? There were so many awkward silences. So many misinterpreted bits of body language and mixed signals when I was either trying to be really cheeky or simply kind. At the time that I properly started writing my speech, I thought the humour wouldn’t be an issue but now I’m not so sure. I won’t adjust my sense of humour for anyone, it’s just become clearer than first thought; that not everyone gets it.

My main concern at the time was trying to fit in all I had to say within the time limit I had set myself.

That’s all for now.

Speak soon,

 

LexC

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Prince’s Trust: Day 46 (Wednesday 7th June 2017)

Hey everybody,

On this day, Team 125 went up to a place just on the outskirts of the city centre to help out with Animal Therapy. We spent the entire day outside and I ended up with lobster tan on my nose, but that’s a story for another time.

We were split up into small teams of two’s and threes and then Anji allocated animals to us to look after and introduce to the children. Don’t worry, we all had DBS checks (but they were more in depth).

I won’t go into details about where it was or the extent of what we had to do, purely out of respect for Anji and the people she works with.

We all managed to do our jobs correctly as I don’t recall Anji coming over to any of us at any one time, except the odd occasion that she came over for a chat. It was a great day and for the first time in a long time, my skin colour from a pathetic ghostly white to something slightly brown.

It marked a week until presentation night.

That’s all for now.

Speak soon,

 

LexC

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