This week, I read Still Alice by Lisa Genova--the very readable story of a 50-year-old Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease. One of the things I really liked about this book was its continuous supply of concrete examples of the challenges and lived experiences of both those living with Alzheimer's and also their caregivers. I was reminded of a time, when I was a teenager, that my youth group visited an assisted living facility to sing and bring cheer to the elderly residents there. I believe our youth choir sang a few songs, and then we were divided up to visit with the individuals in their living spaces or around the common area. As it turned out, my friend and I were "matched" up with a lady, white and wrinkled, who, due to a very recent stroke, had lost her power of speech. How she communicated her desire to speak! We, in all our teenage awkwardness, tried our best to love her as she was, and, at some point, someone suggested a pen and paper. The dear woman's eyes lit up! She began to write names, and we began to guess. "Roger? Your husband? No? Your father? No? Your brother? YES! Yes, your brother is Roger!" I remember the rush of joy as we understood despite all the physical limitations that threatened to steal this lady's ability to share what was in her heart. We sat and laughed and watched her write and guessed and laughed and hugged and encouraged and smiled and laughed some more. Still Alice reminded me of that woman, who was so alive and longing for connection, yet trapped. The book certainly calls us to awareness of others who might live so.
There were parts of the book that I found difficult to read. For example, insinuations of an assisted suicide plan and selfishness within the marital relationship were a believable part of the narrative, yet such behavior left me wishing that our world had a better hope to proclaim. (I do believe that we have been offered a better hope...for more on that, see here!) Overall, I consider this a very informative and entertaining book.
Jadon's Pick of the Week is One Smart Cookie by John Nez. I think I was as tickled by this book as Jadon. It's the story of a book-reading dog who impresses others and eventually inspires his family toward more literary involvement after he leads the way in the aversion of a town crisis. In Jadon's words, this book is great because "Cookie is funny, since a lot of dogs aren't called Cookie! And I like it because he's smart--like me!"
Other favorites from this past week included the following: Grady the Goose (a great story of family "sticking together") by Denise Brennan-Nelson, Dense Brennan-Nelson and Michael Glenn Monroe; A Morning to Polish and Keep (a Canadian fishing tale) by Julie Lawson; and Where Willy Went (a cute and quirky depiction of how babies are made) by Nicholas Allen.