Alice Howland is a Harvard professor of psychology, happily married with three grown children. Then one day, she goes for a run and can't remember how to get home. Little things like this start to build. Alice assumes that these problems are caused by the onset of menopause and goes to see her doctor. A couple doctors later, Alice is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. The rest of the book explores Alice's response to the knowledge that she is going to forget her husband, her children, everything -- and there's nothing she can do to stop it.
Dementia is more terrifying to me than death. I don't think that's a particularly unusual statement but I can barely remember my grandmother before dementia set in. She died when I was thirteen, asking for my grandfather over and over again despite the fact that he was sitting right beside her. Alzheimer's is brutal, and that's all there is to it.
Genova does an excellent job capturing the point of view of a woman who has Alzheimer's and is frightened by what it is going to do to her. It's clear that Genova - herself a Harvard trained neuropsychologist - knows what she's talking about. I do wish that Alice had been a professor of something besides psychology because there were times that it did feel a little like an academic text instead of a novel, and I think that's because Genova's knowledge was pushing through to Alice's voice a little too much. Otherwise, this is an engrossing, compassionate story.