Still Alice, Lisa Genova’s extraordinary New York Times (and originally self-pubbed) bestselling novel, is the story of an accomplished professor diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Now an indie movie, starring Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore (who won a well-deserved Oscar for her role this past Sunday) parts of Still Alice can be more harrowing to watch (and read) than a Stephen King novel.
Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life—and her relationship with her family and the world—forever.
If you enjoyed Still Alice, check out these indie sensations:
The First Noble Truth by C. Lynn Murphy
Machiko Yamamoto pulls out her hair, picks at her skin, and triple checks the locks to the house behind the school where she works. When a foreigner moves into a neighboring thatched roof cottage, she quickly falls in love with the quiet woman with the mangled hand.
Set in Kyoto, New England, Africa and Kathmandu, The First Noble Truth is a story of redemption, interwoven between two protagonists, across two cultures. It peers beneath the comfort of expected storytelling to investigate the dualities of suffering and joy, religion and sex, and cruelty and kindness.
A Timely Death by Genia Stemper
Grace is living the American Dream. She has a gorgeous home in the hills of Southern California, a loving husband and two grown daughters. It is time for Grace to relax and enjoy the life she and her husband have built for themselves. But just as Grace is getting used to her “empty nest”, her daughters and grandchildren move back into the house. Then her father dies suddenly, leaving her to care for her ailing mother. Grace reaches her emotional brink, and the family is forced to make a controversial decision.
A Timely Death delves into the rich relationships between family members, the devastation of Alzheimer’s, and the lengths we go to for those we love.
Downbeach by William Singley
Young Buckeye Bradley’s father never came home from the Normandy beachhead. His only memory is the fading photograph of an Army captain in the bright Georgia sun and this image serves as his silent guide through his not so straight and narrow adolescence as he and his pals swim through the Jersey Shore fifties nostalgia of cars, music, television and mores of the times under the watchful eyes of the bookie ‘Uncle’ Vito and Aces, self-described as the sharpest card in the deck and unparalleled dart shooter, in the back of Vito’s Victory Sub Shop.
Will Buckeye and his friends survive just fine while stealing boats and riding the tops of trolley cars. Then suddenly Angel appears, the summer babysitter who, to Buckeye, is as pure and perfect as a brand new major league hardball with tight red stitches. Buckeye’s dreams about baseball becomes lost after his first real kiss.
Shaken Awake by Allen Madding
If a homeless man froze to death on the steps of a church, what would it change?
Shaken Awake is the story of a church in downtown Atlanta, Georgia faced with a dwindling and aging congregation that has been forced to shut down the majority of their building and dismissed much of its staff. With limited funds, they shutter all of their ministries and programs leaving only a couple adult Sunday school classes and a Sunday morning worship service. When a homeless man freezes to death on the steps of their sanctuary, the church begins to re-examine their mission and priorities.
With and Without Her by Dorothy Foltz-Gray
This is a story that, when told directly, shuts people up, the kind of story that drives people to change the subject, or cross the street when they see the teller coming.
In 1949, author Dorothy Foltz-Gray and her identical twin sister, Deane, were born. In 1981, Deane, then a psychologist, was fatally shot by one of her patients. In the years between, the pair formed an almost supernaturally close bond, one so intimate that at times, their memories fused and their individual identities dimmed. Foltz-Gray describes the imagined womb life she and her sister shared, their childhood and family, and their dreams of sharing each other’s lives. She also details the nightmare of her sister’s death, its immediate aftermath, and her attempts to recover herself.
Blue Hydrangeas: An Alzheimer’s Love Story by Marianne Sciucco
What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn’t remember your name?
A nursing facility is everyone’s solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband, Jack, can’t bear to live without her. He is committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. He and Sara retired years ago to the house of their dreams, and operated it as a Cape Cod bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: He and Sara will stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. However, after nine years of selfless caregiving, complicated by her progressing Alzheimer’s and his own failing heart, he finally admits he can no longer care for her at home. With reluctance, he arranges to admit her to an assisted living facility. But, on the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days, and he is unable to follow through. Instead, he takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.
If you enjoyed Genova’s touching tale, take a peek at these intriguing indies. You may need a Kleenex or two, but why not open your heart to a new story—one that makes us thankful for what we have and maybe even optimistic for that which we lack.