How to Recognize a Scammer When You Meet Him or Her in 2017

A Scammer Scans for the Vulnerable

A scammer found my elderly sister-in-law one night when she checked her email. Up popped up a warning that said her computer had multiple viruses and she needed IMMEDIATE help.

She believed that she did. The problem seemed more urgent than waiting to make a call to Geek Squad, a service she already had. She did not call them. She didn’t call her family. She did not tell anyone – just like the scammer said.

Alone with your computer? Frustrated? You might be vulnerable to a scammer.

She didn’t know why she trusted him.

I say elderly sister-in-law, but she a bit younger than I am, she could be your age. She lives alone, doesn’t earn very much, and saves every penny she can. She clicked a pop-up window on her computer, and somehow she began a relationship with an abusive scammer. He emailed her that could fix her computer for $300.

She loves her computer. It opens the world of distant friends and relatives on Facebook.

She decided to fix the computer.

She watched the cursor move. The scammer had control. But wait, he could help her establish online banking, too. So she trusted him. She did not have credit – anywhere. He began calling her, giving her instructions. The phone would ring at night when she was tired after working all day. She responded like it was another chore on her growing list of things that she had to do.

The scammer began calling her, giving her instructions.

“No, I don’t have credit.”

“You need to go to the nearest store and get a gift card from iTunes to pay for this.”

So she did.

“OK, now just email me the code. OH NO! It was blocked. You’ll have to do it again.”

So she did.

“Don’t go to that store, it did not work. Get it from this store instead. Here I’m going to help you. I’ll put $1,500 into your account. You can pay me back later with the card you’re going to get from this other store.”

So she did – again. The bank called her and asked if she authorized the charge at the store. She told them that she did. She owed money for the work on the computer.

“It’s still not working. Go to Walmart this time. No, that’s ok, I’m checking your account online. The payment does not seem to be going through. No, you don’t talk to the bank. I’ll take care of this. Trust me or you won’t ever get your computer back.”

So she did not.

“Do you know much about computers? Wouldn’t you love to have online banking? Then you don’t have to go into the bank to check on your account. I’m going to set you up with online banking. I’ll send you the password. Here I can take a selfie of you. Get your driver’s license. Hold it next to your face. Perfect. Now just the driver’s license.”

But he did not send the password. In fact, he started yelling at my sister-in-law when he called her late at night.

Why is he yelling at me? He doesn’t have the right to yell at me, she thought. Yelling makes me mad.

“You took my money,” my sister-in-law accused him.

“No worries, it did not go through.”

Even after she accused him, the scammer left voice messages on her phone and sent her emails.

She went to the bank. The bank told her that all her charges processed. Since she charged the items, she was liable. She immediately went to the police station. She called Experian.

She has a lot of work to do to get out of this. Thursday she has an appointment with DMV. Most likely she will have to get a new driver’s license.

More Important Than Money

“This is more than about the money. I feel so dumb. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I finally trusted a counselor and she sent me right to the bank.The bank sent me right to the police station. I feel like I’ve been trapped.”

ScammerWe Hear About Scammers and Think We Won’t Be Touched

Years ago I trusted a superintendent in California. I knew him. I just didn’t know he wasn’t himself on Facebook. A scammer got me. Fortunately, I lived with someone who wasn’t in the grips of the scammer at the moment. I didn’t want to tell my husband. I’m smart, well-educated and an independent. Here was a man to whom I looked up and respected, a superintendent telling me that he thought he saw my name on a list, and I was going to win $200,000 just like he did. I questioned the scammer a lot, I almost believed him!

However, I did tell my husband and asked him what he thought.

“Are you sure it’s him?” Vince asked.

“Of course, we talked about all kinds of things first.”

“Just call him.”

“Why? I’m chatting with him.”

“Check to see if he is online.”

I was embarrassed to call the superintendent. Of course, he was online. We were chatting. But I listened to my husband. I called the administrator and asked if he was online.

“No,” he replied.

“You’ve been hacked, then,” I told him.

I reported the scammer, and never heard back from him.

A Scammer Keeps Calling Until the Victim Takes Action or Has Nothing Left

This scammer man called my sister-in-law several times over a month’s time. He asked her to do things, and she did it unquestioningly thinking the problem would go away. The scammer became verbally abusive and continued to raise havoc with her credit score. She finally got mad at him, told someone else.  She took action to protect herself even though it was humiliating.

What Can We Do?

We don’t have to sit back and be victims or let someone we love be a victim.

Check up on family and friends frequently if they have had a loss or trauma in their lives. Maybe they are fragile. My mother-in-law paid someone to mow her grass one time. He came back four times and collected a total of $1,200. His line:

“You forgot to pay me. It’s $300.”

My husband’s aunt was there the last time he came. She threatened him and said she was calling the police. We knew my husband’s mom was a little forgetful, but being out of state and visiting only a few times a year, we did not realize that she had worsening dementia until an aunt called us and told us what happened.

We had to take legal action on her behalf. The bank limited her ability to write checks over $100. She wouldn’t leave her home, but we kept tabs on her after that through the aunt and an attorney. We gave the aunt the right to make decisions on her behalf so she could stay in her home for a while longer.

Don’t be afraid to ask loved ones if they have had suspicious email or online requests from strangers. It’s hard to admit that we could fall for a scammer. My husband thought, “How could my sister do that?” His sister wondered the same thing about herself. It’s like being in an alternate reality. If I hadn’t almost fallen for something similar, I would have felt the same thing. But it can happen to anyone, especially at a vulnerable time.

Be rude. If you practice the kind of etiquette our grandparents taught us as children, a scammer will use it against us. It goes against the grain to be rude. Scammers count on our politeness.

Instead, hang up on calls you suspect might be spammers or scammers. I wait for a second after I answer the phone and say hello. If no one responds immediately, I hang up. If they try to sell me something I tell them no thank you and hang up without waiting for a reply.

Vince’s sister said “I always try to be nice to people. I am nice to people, but he made me mad! I told him he took my money. He admitted that he did.”

Communicate with others to protect yourself.

We have to take responsibility for ourselves and for others around us who are not able to care for themselves.

  1. Cover the cam recorder on your computer until you want to use it. My camera now has a Post-it on top of it. A scammer can hack in and see what you are doing. You don’t want to pose for selfie’ as my sister-in-law did. The scammer knows her address and date of birth.
  2. Individually we need to communicate with loved ones, people proven to care about us. We cannot live isolated from others. We must have people who care about us in real time, on location. A scammer looks for individuals who are lonely and seem not to have someone else who cares about them.
  3. We must not be embarrassed or too proud to admit we might get scammed. If we think it can’t happen to us, we are pridefully wrong. Senior adults do forget and get confused more often than middle-aged adults.  So retirement-aged adults need to be aware of scams.
  4. There is legislation in place to protect consumers from scammers, but the law is not enough to stop evil and greedy people from trying to steal from us. A scammer works at scamming. They think of it as their jobs. In fact, some of them may be working a 9-5 job scamming for a salary or commission. If you are strong and convinced they are scamming you, urge them to walk away from the job of scamming. Help them to feel guilty about what they are doing. Remind them of how it would feel if someone did what they are doing to their wife, child or mother.
  5. Be aware of exorbitant prices for services. Do not pay more than an items costs new to repair it. My sister-in-law paid more than six times what her computer cost. Even the original charge was nearly the cost of a new computer.
  6. NEVER take orders from a scammer over the internet! You do not have to go to the bank to withdraw money. You do not have to buy iTunes gift cards. You do not have to give them the code for the gift card, or your bank account. It’s ok to hang up and not do what they order you to do!
  7. NEVER make instant decisions on the internet.
  8. Tell your friends if you notice a new friend request from an old friend on Facebook. Hackers or scammers send friend requests. If you are always friends with someone, don’t friend them again. Check if you don’t remember. Report the fraud to the friend and Facebook.
  9. Don’t open suspicious emails or emails from strangers.

How Do We Combat a Scammer AFTER We a Scammer Swindles Us?

After the fact, we must act quickly and take steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

  1. Report the fraud to our bank.
  2. Report the crime to the police.
  3. Report the fraud to one of the Credit Reporting Companies Equifax 1‑800‑525‑6285 Experian 1‑888‑397‑3742 TransUnion 1‑800‑680‑7289

The most helpful and complete set of steps I found to follow up on identity theft is from the Federal Trade Commission. The booklet tells how to fix the problem.

Can We Eliminate Scammers Through the Legal System?

Communicate often with others to protect yourself from scammers.

Nothing I found suggests that we can eliminate the scammer problem.

We must report all fraud and scams to the FTC. The Commission can bring the kinds of cases that shut down the scammers. However, scamming is an international problem, not only a national one. There’s another place to report international scams: “The site is run by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) and is a partnership of 34 consumer protection agencies around the world. Starting today, an updated version of the site is available – it’s mobile-friendly, has a user-friendly complaint form, and you can get consumer information and file claims in English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish, and Turkish.”


The internet brings us instant information, freedom of doing something from home that used to take hours or was even impossible. Remember needing to get to the bank before it closed at 3:00 pm if you needed some cash for your weekend trip? We can’t go back to the sixties and before, and don’t want to. Legislation helps protect us as consumers, but it is not the only answer. The laws didn’t stop bank robbers from robbing a bank. Instead, changes in technology made it harder to physically rob banks.

As a society in 2017, we are at risk from people who know how to hack into our banking systems, our government, our way of life using the internet. But we can take steps to keep from becoming victims. And we have recourses to take if we a scammer tries to ruin our lives. We might not get our money back, but we can get our lives back.

Respond Please

Maybe you have more ideas. Feel free to share them in the comment box.

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“Your world is a living expression of how you
are using—and have used—your mind. ” Earl Nightingale

“Earl Nightingale was an American radio personality, writer, speaker, and author, dealing mostly with the subjects of human character development, motivation, excellence and meaningful existence; so named as the “Dean of Personal Development.” Wikipedia

The statue stands guard on the steps of the Canopy Cathedral at Longwood Gardens.

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How to Enjoy the Ballarat Botanical Gardens

If you go to Victoria, you HAVE to take the hour and a half train from Melbourne and visit the City of Ballarat Botanical Gardens across the street from Lake Wendouree.

Rated 2 Out of 73 Places to Visit in Ballarat

Australia trip #17 Jo’s Monday Walks, Cee’s Which Way Challenge

If you go to Victoria, you HAVE to take the hour and a half train from Melbourne and visit Ballarat.  Ballarat Botanical Gardens

The hurried bustle of Melbourne changed in minutes once we left the station.

Ballarat Botanical GardensSoon the brown landscape reminded me of the Central Valley of California, where I live. Not much changed during the hour trip, and it sped by so quickly you would not have enjoyed the picture.

Ballarat or Bust

Yes, the 1850 Australian Gold Rush happened in Ballarat. We approached the golden gates at lunch time so our hostesses, Carol’s sister-in-law and niece, took us to lunch at Pipers by the Lake.

Ballarat Botanical GardensManny, my traveling bear, always says, “I’m never hungry, but I can always eat.”

Notice he liked pasta. I chose pumpkin soup. Australian pumpkin anything is fabulous, and Pipers did not disappoint. In retrospect, I probably should not have opted for the hot soup. The afternoon temperatures soared into the late nineties.

After lunch, I was ready for a nap, but these energetic, climate-time-adjusted women got Manny and me up and on our feet. Weather of almost any kind melts me, but the beauty surrounding the restaurant spurred me on.

Ballarat Botanical GardensAfter some quick photo ops on the Lily Bridge decorating Lake Wendouree, donned in my Stabilisation Shoes (spelled the Australia way, pronounced stable-I-ZA-shun), I was primed for a long walk.

I longed for air conditioning. Instead, we walked down the block a bit and along Lake Wendouree. There really are black swans, so, in spite of the heat, I began to catch their enthusiasm.

Ballarat Botanical GardensSoon we crossed the western side of the street to the City of Ballarat Botanical Gardens. Rated #2 of 73 things to do by Trip Advisor, my guides Mandy, Katie, and Carol could not have made a better choice of introduction to Ballarat for me.

It’s only a few minutes’ drive from the Central Business District of Ballarat, abbreviated as CBD, to find Pipers and the Gardens. BTW, when you visit Australia, realize that you also have to know all the acronyms and nicknames for common words.

The Gardens are divided into three zones. We spent most of our time in the central Botanical Gardens, which you will see when you scroll down. One Australian website referred to the central area as a Victorian pleasure garden.

Ballarat Botanical GardensOn either side of the park entrance, there are open parkland buffers known as the North and South Gardens. On this summer day, families and lovers lounged on the cool grass under the shade trees.

The pair of marble lions situated just inside the gates began guarding the entrance to the garden in 1893.

The Gardens celebrated its sesquicentenary (150 years old) in 2007.

The South Gardens

Practically every Australian park I toured honored their soldiers in some way. The Ballarat Gardens feature Australia’s Ex-Prisoner of War Memorial, designed by local artist Peter Blizzard. Opened in 2004, the 130-meter long granite wall has the names of 35,000 Australian Prisoners of War etched into it, 8,600 of whom died and are buried on foreign soil.

Ballarat Botanical GardensTeacher, Carol determined that I would LEARN everything about Australia during this trip. She took it easy on me right after lunch as we strolled along the moving POW memorial. I guess she hadn’t learned about all 35,000 names either.

However, when we marched down Prime Minister Lane, it was a different story. Carol told me about the first, the best, and the worst Prime Ministers.

Here are some Wiki-facts to test your memory for the quiz at the end of this post.  Prime Ministers Avenue is set within Horse Chestnut Avenue. Alfred Deakin founded the Federation of Australia Deakin and served as the first Federal Member for Ballarat and the second Prime Minister.

I tried as hard as I could to memorize all the names, faces and fun facts as she enthusiastically told me about each one. TC History Gal should be good at this, right?

Ballarat Botanical GardensThe flat pathway through the shade of beautiful trees on a quiet afternoon caused me to zone out.  I enjoyed the experience of being in a new place with hospitable people. Conversations buzzed around me like busy mosquitoes. Speaking of mosquitoes, the tiny insects may have had their way with this Prime Minister.


Ballarat Botanical GardensMaybe it was because their names were etched in gold, too light to read. It certainly was not the hot pumpkin soup. Needless to say, Carol may have struck out on this teaching venture. The good news is that if you want to know the Australian Prime Ministers, they are listed here.

The Center Zone

Opened in 1995, Bob Clark donated two million dollars to build the Conservatory to honor his Grandfather Robert Clark – co-founder of The Courier newspaper.

To the north of the roundabout stood the heritage statuary pavilion. This historic-looking building housed the Stoddart Statue collection. The group of statues consists of 12 white marble figures from Italy donated by Thomas Stoddart in 1884.
Vandals exist even in Australia, and they damaged the statues. So after nearly 120 years of roaming free in the 99-acre park, the figures crowded into to this pavilion home in 2002.
Ballarat Botanical GardensRebekah flirted with us while trying to keep fresh in her hot summer garb. I sympathized. It felt warm enough to me to wear different clothes. Maybe not that open, though!
Ballarat Botanical Gardens Modesty stood serenely behind her glazed window. She allowed us to glimpse her beauty beneath her sheer drapes. Judging by her straight, slim toes, she was pretty foxy in her day. But she did not look like she had much of a sense of humor.

The Conservatory

North Gardens

I read that the remains of a zoo dot the North Gardens. Either we did not visit that, or I fell asleep under a tree, and a lion ate me.

Link to This Post!

If you have been to Ballarat and have written a post about it, feel free to link an article in the comment section. I don’t know about other readers, but I’ll check it out!

Ballarat Botanical Gardens
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Who was Australia’s second Prime Minister?

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How to Visit Yosemite National Park Like an Artist

The Sequoia Tourism Council encourages tourists visit the Scenic Mountain Loop, Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, for a long three-day weekend. Each park has its own interest. Those who love huge granite cliffs, and many water features might start with Yosemite. Tree lovers should start in Tulare County at Sequoia Park, the home of the biggest trees in the world.

How to Avoid the Crowds at Yosemite

The short answer is that during a great year like 2017, you probably can’t avoid crowds completely. To beat hoards of people, this last week of May is about the perfect time you will find to visit Yosemite until school is out.


Sign up for my Traveling and Blogging Mailing List by June 1 to enter sweepstakes to win a free travel book.

Yosemite National Park May 2017
Linda is an artist and Bob is a farmer.

Meet Linda Hengst and her husband Bob. Linda paints with oil, water-color, acrylics, using brushes, knives, on canvas and buildings. You name it. She just finished a new mural in Exeter, CA, famous for its beautiful murals.

Bob told me at one of her art shows, “If you love to paint, you have to paint. You can’t help yourself.” Bob is her life-long admirer and supporter.

Linda gets her ideas from nature, primarily from photographs.

Yosemite National Park May 2017
Bridal Veil Falls Scenic Lookout

When Linda invited me to go along with her on a photo shoot to find pictures to paint in Yosemite, I jumped at the chance. Getting to photograph a beautiful place is incentive enough, but to get inside the thinking of an artist – better still!

Native Californians, Linda and Bob, wanted to visit Yosemite on a weekday before school let out to take photographs. Does this make her an introverted artist like many are? Nah! She knew how few parking spaces there were in Yosemite! Poor Bob!

Having near record rainfalls this spring promises great pictures of the many falls in Yosemite. Crowds will follow. Below you can see the record rains of 1997.

The day we went it was about 75 degrees and sunny. Bob couldn’t find a parking spot in the scenic parking areas on either side of the road as we emerged from the long tunnel into our first view of Bridal Veil Falls.

The car was barely stopped when Linda popped out, confident that Bob would find a spot to park or pick her up. She began taking pictures immediately. At first, I waited in the back seat as Bob patiently pulled as far off the road as he could. As we sat waiting for a parking place, I shot pictures from the car. I loved the frame it created. It almost seemed that I was watching the scene on TV.

Yosemite National Park May 2017
Great photographers are advised to get out of the car to take their shots. They might miss this!

Settling into the Yosemite Valley Floor

Five minutes into our arrival Linda wanted to hike up to photograph Bridal Veil Falls with frigid water pounding over the granite cliffs misting her jacket, face and perfect hair. Bob did not want to do that. Linda brought extra clothes, a heavy raincoat, and pairs of shoes. She packed like a grandma, but had the enthusiasm of a second-grader.

Yosemite National Park May 2017
It looked like fun. I hope this guy packed like Linda.

Umm, getting to the trail meant wading. I don’t want all of you think I am a naysayer, but there is not a good way look like the heroine of this story. Without a willing partner, Linda opted regretfully out of hiking up for a Bridal Veil shower.

Yosemite National Park May 2017
“Stand here, Marsha,” Linda insisted “This is the best shot.”

Instead we took lots of shots of the falls from along the road. I tended to get caught up in details like a tree buds.

Yosemite National Park May 2017 Linda looked for the bigger picture. When I followed her advice, I got some exquisite shots.

Yosemite National Park May 2017
Wasn’t that worth it?

Trees made the perfect frame for the engorged falls. I would have been happier with a bluer sky, but as a painter, Linda could change that.

In Search of Dogwood Trees

Linda got very excited to see the dogwoods blooming. She wanted Bob to pull the car over every time she saw one. Bob pulled safely off the road often so she could take a picture.We probably saw 500 dogwood trees, not counting reflections.

Yosemite National Park May 2017She wanted me to stand up while the car was moving and take pictures of dogwood trees out of the sun roof. She stuck her miniature digital camera through the hole in the roof and clicked. Some of her pictures came out. I stayed securely imprisoned in my backseat seatbelt during the trip, Highway Patrol Person and Carol Sherritt.

Dogwood Trees Frame the Majestic Yosemite Hotel

Yosemite National Park May 2017

After about two hours of photo snapping, Bob calmly announced he could eat something. We headed towards the Ahwahnee Hotel, temporarily renamed the Majestic Yosemite. Bob checked out the dining room while we checked the ladies’ rest rooms for signs on the insides of the doors. Unlike in Australia, the doors had no signs. Very boring.

The hour and forty minute wait to order lunch did not appeal to any of us. So we ate outside to enjoy this view of the 1927 historic hotel. I took about an hour and forty minutes to get our tomato-basil soup and grilled cheese sandwich, but the wait could not have been more pleasant. We rated the food and service at about a B-.

Ahwahnee Hotel History

Yosemite National Park May 2017Beginning in 1925, the designer of the Bryce and Zion Canyon lodges, Gilbert Stanley Underwood, designed the massive 150,000 square foot hotel. Created entirely from materials not found in the protected park, trucks hauled in 1,000 tons of steel, 5,000 tons of stone, and 30,000 board feet of timber. Although James L. McLaughlin quoted the park a cost of $525,000 to build the first-class hotel, the last price tag came in at $1,250,000 in 1927 dollars or $17,050,282 today.

The hotel served as a Navy rest and relaxation hospital for naval personnel during World War II. Three hundred fifty men slept in the Great Lounge. Nearly 7,000 patients with over 90,000 service men and women coming to rest and relax.

After lunch, we followed the river on a short path to admire all the dogwood trees in bloom.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

Hiking Along the Merced River

While Bob may have napped in the car after lunch, Linda wanted to do one more hike to a bridge she remembered that had a perfect view of Yosemite Falls. We started off in that direction, her walking sticks clicking on the rocks against the clamor of the Merced River racing along in the opposite direction. We both stopped often to listen and take pictures. No one dared to photo bomb us and chance falling into the icy creek that rushed away on its watery journey.

Some hikers coming the opposite direction informed us that the bridge from which Linda wanted to take pictures of Yosemite Falls was not as close as she had hoped. They suggested we go forward another few minutes and look backward.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

I took a picture every few feet to make sure I did not miss the perfect shot.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

After we were sure we had the best pictures we could capture, we headed back to Bob. Linda made him walk the next trail, which was a short one with views of three falls, if you aimed correctly. Can you find them all?

Yosemite National Park May 2017

Linda, the most creative of the three of us, found a playmate.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

I thought Pock Mark was cute too, and I found him an extra eye that Linda did not like. Pock looked like he was eating a snake or maybe a giant rat.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

I wasn’t going to try to get it away from him!

The meadows retained some of the January rains. I wanted a reflection of the mountains. If you look carefully you can see the reflection of the falls on the lower left right by my name.

Yosemite National Park May 2017Some of the views defied my ability to come up with enough words to describe them. Grandeur and awe-inspiring sound trite, but what words would you use? Some people do not like to get people in their photographs, but my dad, a professional photographer in his retirement years, gave advice I try to always follow at least in one photo.

“When you take landscapes, you need something to show perspective. Always take a picture of someone wearing red.” Dad told me.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

Wherever the falls plummeted from the mountains we heard the intense power of the water crashing down the rocks even from a great distance.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

In places it looked like the water forced its way out of the tiny holes in the rocks.


Yosemite National Park May 2017

By the end of the day Linda was still revved. She did not want to leave.

“Oh look at the cute cap on Half Dome.”

I turned from heading toward the car where Bob waited to find her taking this shot. I hurried to take it, too, before the cap decided to move on.

At some point, Linda will create amazing paintings. As she clicked and chatted, I appreciated her enthusiastic search for the perfect photo spots, playfulness, inquisitiveness, and her eye for great photos.

If you don’t go to Yosemite with a Linda in your group, don’t despair. Great art awaits you at every turn. Just point and shoot.

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Still Alice by Lisa Genova

How Do You Choose a Great Book to Read?

It’s hard. Do you listen to what friends or bloggers say about books?

For most people walking around a bookstore, physical or virtual, staring at thousands of books is not enough to make them buy a book. What about you? Have you ever you read the back cover or the first page of a random book on the shelf and bought the book? Did the cover grab your attention?

Airport bookstores group their books by New York Times ratings. I’ve thumbed through books based on these ratings. Maybe you know the author or the genre so you buy the book. Possibly a friend recommended a book. Many of the books I’ve bought over the years came about because I attended a training or meeting.

Renown authors speak around the country. If you get a chance to hear an author, take the opportunity to attend. Thousands of us sat in a Towne Hall lecture in Fresno, CA spellbound listening to this former indie author, Lisa Genova, as she told us her story of being a single mom. Genova wondered how she was going to hold her life together after she went through a divorce. Many listeners identified with that problem. She decided she wanted to follow her dream to write fiction books. Who doesn’t want to follow their life-long ambitions? Without any training in writing, she set out on her journey of making her dream a reality.


When she finished, she sent query letters to 100 agents. In two paragraphs or less, they all turned her down except two. Those two said it was highly improbable as a topic because people were afraid to talk about it.

For a year and a half, she researched and wrote. She took acting lessons because she had never written before, but the book begged to be written. She wrote about a misunderstood group of people. Literary agents did not dare to venture into their world.

The book skyrocketed to the top of the New York Best Sellers list. Then it went viral globally and was translated into many languages. Eventually, it reached the big screens, an equally fabulous tale that left the audience standing with their mouths ajar!

Synopsis of Still Alice

What makes this book unique is that Genova tells the story of early onset Alzheimer’s from the vantage point of the patient, Alice. Like many who are struck with Alzheimer’s, Alice had a great mind at the onset. By her fifties, Alice had accomplished far beyond what most people hope to achieve academically in their life. Being menopausal she experienced symptoms that most women her age begin to experience, but was troubled when she got lost in a familiar place. Rather than brushing off her symptoms, she sought medical help.

Instead of dwelling on the issues that the caregivers faced, such as cleaning up the mess after Alice destroyed the kitchen or emptied every drawer in her bedroom, Cordova shared what Alice thought she created the mess. Readers watch while incapacitated Alice struggles to decipher and follow the notes that saner Alice left for her to do when she got to an unacceptable level of mental capacity. We see the frustration and compassion of family through Alice’s increasingly blurry understanding of what is going on.

Though the diagnosis is devastating, Alice faces it and opens up the world of the patient. Readers experience vicariously what it must be like to lose one’s awareness and identity. Like many readers, I read the book because I have had experience with loved ones who suffered from dementia or Alzheimer’s.


Learning about Genova’s accomplishments and understanding in the field of neurology and her extensive research makes the book believable. Knowing that her grandmother had Alzheimer’s and that she took acting lessons to help her learn how to write fiction, personalized the book. It is one of the greatest books I have ever read.


A+ Great Book
Lisa Genova

Amazon writes, “Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. Acclaimed as the Oliver Sacks of fiction and the Michael Crichton of brain science, she is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Still Alice, Left Neglected, Love Anthony, and Inside the O’Briens.

Still Alice has spent 59 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. It won the 2008 Bronte Prize and the 2011 Bexley Book of the Year, and it was nominated for the 2010 Indies Choice Debut Book of the Year by the American Booksellers Association. It was the #6 Top Book Group Favorite of 2009 by Reading Group Choices, a 2009 Barnes & Noble”

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