I have been feeling much better in April though I only reviewed two books on MapleBooks:
But more importantly, I managed to read seven books! That. Feels. Good. !!!
First, I discovered Lisa Genova at the end of March thanks to a tweet by Niall and fell in love (with Lisa Genova’s novels, not Niall I mean!). I was stuck with a bad migraine in the middle of the night and decided to get Still Alice on KoboBooks (midnight book craves are when eBooks shine). Twenty-four hours and a few useless painkillers later, I had finished the book and decided it was probably one of the best novels I ever read in my whole life. Luckily for me, the Ottawa Library had Love Anthony available and guess what I was reading next?
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Everyone needs to read Still Alice. This book extends our compassion to others and helps make us better, more understanding people.
In this novel, we follow the story of Alice, a brilliant professor at Harvard, who discovers she suffers from Alzheimer. She is still very young, enjoying research and teaching about linguistics. Alzheimer hits her where it hurts the most: cognitive skills – memory and language – the core of her career.
How can this happen to her? How can she accept it? How can her family accept it?
Still Alice is the brilliant story of a woman struck by an incurable and degenerative disease which not only challenges her independence, but ultimately threatens her life. It’s about her family trying to cope with the sickness and struggling to adjust to Alice. There is a real risk to forget Alice the wife, the mother, the cognitive expert, behind the disease.
As Alice becomes more and more dependent, her family dynamics change. Still Alice shows how important it is to remember the individual behind the disease. Respect, compassion and support should extend to people suffering from advanced stage of dementia.
I can’t recommend this book enough. Just read it, really!
Love Anthony by Lisa Genova
Still Alice was such a stunning book that I grabbed the first next Lisa Genova I could find. This was Love Anthony, a heart-breaking story about two mothers: Olivia is grieving over her autistic son, and Beth’s couple is falling apart. They both live on a remote island where there is no easy distraction to such sorrows.
Just as Still Alice does about Alzheimer, Love Anthony raises awareness about autism, or more specifically, life as an autistic child’s parent. I found it very interesting that the book wasn’t only about trying to make a connection with Anthony but also with his parents. It’s hard to be the only mother in a park whose kid won’t talk, won’t play hide-and-seek, won’t behave “normal”. Social pressure is difficult to bear but worst is the loss of control on your life: why can’t you do trivial things like going back home through a new route? Attend a wedding? Or just hug your little one?
The story of Olivia, David and Anthony was my favourite part of the book. The story of Beth, unfortunately, is what made me rate the book 4 instead of 5: her husband has been cheating on her and she’s trying to figure out what’s next for her and her family. It was much less original, if not boring. I also felt the relation between the two characters was a bit far-fetched (and esoteric, to say the least).
Still, Love Anthony is riveting and very moving. Recommended, but if you didn’t read Still Alice, I’d recommend it first!
By that time, my heart was definitely broken and I started to read a lighter, interesting non-fiction book about cats.
Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet by John W.S. Bradshaw
Cats need our understanding — both as individual animals that need our help to adjust to our ever-increasing demandes, and also as a species that is still in transition between the wild and the truly domestic.
Cat Sense provides an extensive introduction to cats in general: their history, their behaviour, their inner conflict between the urge to hunt and a lazy, domestic life… The book doesn’t really teach you how to take better care of your cat(s), but it does provide some insights which might help you to understand them. For instance, why it might not be a good idea to adopt a second cat; or how and when to make kittens more friendly to humans; or why pedigree breeding can be dangerous.
It’s quite interesting, but sometimes a bit dry.
Then, I read an entire trilogy from one of my favourite French science-fiction author, Pierre Bordage: Ceux qui sauront. I hadn’t realized how much faster I can read in my mother tongue, though it makes complete sense. I really enjoyed it!
Finally, I read the two following Canadian books and I hope to review them soon!
- Up Ghost River by Edmund Metatawabin & Alexandra Shima: an accessible, eye-opening and heart-breaking memoir about Canadian residential schools.
- Dix ans d’éternité, a collection of the best science-fiction & fantasy short stories published in the québécois magazine Brins d’éternité.