Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Dr. Alice Howland has a near perfect life. She teaches at Harvard and is esteemed in her field of cognitive psychology. She loves her husband, travels, has a summer home and has 3 grown children. When she starts experiencing memory loss at the age of 50, she attributes it to simple aging and menopause. As the episodes become more frequent and more frightening, Alice finally goes to the doctor. After a series of tests, the diagnosis is not anything that she expected, early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

The narrative is told almost entirely through Alice’s eyes. Her relationships with her children, husband, friends and colleagues are all chronicled from Alice’s perspective as her illness progresses towards its inevitable conclusion.

I loved this book. While it is very poignant and surely has it’s sad moments, this is not a horribly sad read. Alice works hard to retain the normalcy and routine of her life. However, the story follows the incremental losses of independence she experiences as the disease eventually takes over her life. Throughout this process though, there is humor, and moments of real love and empathy between Alice and her family.

This book will make those who read it think of their own family relationships and asks the question “What can we really expect from those who love us?”

This book is hard to put down and will touch your heart. It will make you think.

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

The title of the book “My Friend Dahmer” was enough to leave me feeling both intrigued and quite chilled. This graphic novel outlines Jeffrey Dahmer’s life in middle and high school all the way through high school graduation. The pictures depict the sad and disturbed teen years of the serial killer.

Told in graphic format by one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s high school classmates, the serial killer’s family and school life are the focus of the book. The author’s assertion that the adults in Dahmer’s life failed him is weaved throughout the story. The follows Dahmer as he eventually succumbs into the darkness.

While an easy read, I admittedly had to put this book down a few times before finishing. Knowing the ultimate outcome of Dahmer’s choices made it too difficult to finish this book all in one sitting.

This is a great, fast read albeit disturbing read. If I had to choose a one word description, it would be haunting.

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