On Pluto, by Greg O’Brien.

This one’s fascinating. Greg, an award-winning journalist from the Boston area, has early-onset Alzheimers. But like a reporter he went into it with notebook and pen in hand. One of the things that caught my attention was how he’d stand in his front yard with a garden hose in his hand without knowing how it works. And feeling the frustration from not knowing. That’s true-to-life stuff. A few things, though. Greg touches a lot on his Irish Catholic upbringing in the story, and he often repeats himself. But how much of that is his disease at work? The brain on Alzheimers will forget the more recent stuff but be on a first-name basis with the Wayback Machine.

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova.

First off, it’s a novel. While the author might have based Alice from several people she knew, it’s still a novel. The information is good, but it’s a novel. A good one, but … Some dramatic moments here. Like the message Alice left herself on the computer. I won’t tell you what it is because it’s too much a spoiler. The other thing is how Alice referred to her daughters in the narrative — first by name, then later as “the actor” and “the nice lady.” So for a novel she gets inside Alice’s head very well. Ms. Genova is a neuroscientist who taught at Harvard (real similar to Alice’s backstory) but she really does know her stuff. Very readable, well, like a novel instead of a case study or an as-told-to. Excellent work, and it — along with the movie — does put Alzheimers’ in the public forum where it belongs.

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