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Inside the O’Briens: A Novel

July 6, 2015
Inside The O'Briens
Lisa Genova
Medical Fiction
Simon and Schuster
April 7, 2015
353
Net Galley

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Description of the book

From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a “heartbreaking…very human novel” (Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves) that does for Huntington’s disease what her debut novel Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.

Joe O’Brien is a forty-three-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure, and each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

Praised for writing that “explores the resilience of the human spirit” (The San Francisco Chronicle), Lisa Genova has once again delivered a novel as powerful and unforgettable as the human insights at its core.

My review of Inside the O’Briens

Lisa Genova has written a powerful book about the horrible Huntington’s Disease. I had never heard of Huntington’s disease until I read the description of this book. It intrigued me. I had seen the movie Still Alice about Alzheimer’s disease. I knew it was based on the book of the same name by Lisa Genova, but I had not read the book. I was curious about what Huntington’s disease was, so I googled it. Huntington’s disease is an inherited disease that causes the progressive breakdown (degeneration) of nerve cells in the brain.  Well, now I knew what it is, I had to see how the author would paint the picture.

The story is set in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Joe is a police officer and the father of four grown children. He has Huntington’s Disease. We see through his eyes how devastating and embarrassing this disease can be. Huntington’s Disease is genetic. We watch as his four children struggle with whether or not they want to be tested to find out if they have the disease. I imagine that the emotions shared in the portrayal of the O’Brien’s journey would mirror those of a family that was afflicted with this disease. It was very heart wrenching. Lisa Genova makes you feel the family’s fear and frustration as they navigate the progression of this disease. I didn’t care for the ending. I wanted to know if Katie tested positive or negative for the disease, but I get why she did it this way. Katie had come to grips with this and was ready for whichever answer she got. She was going to live her life to the fullest. I did like the fact that the whole family went with her to support her when she found out her results.

I would highly recommend this well written book.

About the author

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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, 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 Discover Pick, a 2009 Indie Next pick, a 2009 Borders Book Club Pick, and a 2009 Target Book Club pick. There are over 2.6 million copies in print, and it has been translated into 37 languages. It was chosen as one of the thirty titles for World Book Night 2013. Still Alice is an Academy Award winning film from Sony Pictures Classics starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish. Julianne Moore won the 2015 Best Actress Oscar for her role as Alice Howland. A Top 10 Independent Movie of 2015 on iTunes.

Left Neglected , also a New York Times bestseller, was the #1 Indie Next Pick for January 2011, the Borders “Book You’ll Love” for January 2011, and the #4 Indie Reading Group Pick for summer 2011. Left Neglected was chosen by the Richard and Judy bookclub in the UK.

Lisa’s third New York Times bestselling novel, Love Anthony was an October 2012 Indie Next pick and a People Magazine Great Read. USA Today calls it “beautifully written and poignant to the point of heartbreak.”

Lisa’s fourth novel, Inside the O’Briens, about a family living with Huntington’s Disease was published April 7, 2015. An instant bestseller on its first week, it became the #1 hardcover fiction title in Canada and #12 on the New York Times bestseller list. Library Journal named Inside the O’Briens one of the best books of 2015 and it was the Goodreads #6 fiction title of 2015. “An unsparing, heart-piercing portrait…compelling…enlightening.” -Washington Post. “A gut-wrenching and memorable read.” -Library Journal, starred review.

Speaking about the neurological diseases and disorders she writes about, Lisa has appeared on the Today Show, Dr. Oz, the Diane Rehm Show, CNN, Chronicle, Fox News, and Canada AM and was featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary film, TO NOT FADE AWAY.

In 2015, Lisa was named one of the U.S. Top 50 Influencers in Aging.

She is happily divorced and lives with her children in Massachusetts.

 

About Terry Houchin

Hi, my name is Terry Houchin. I live on the on the Gulf Coast of Texas with my husband of thirty-eight years and our two dogs, Miley and Shadow. I have two grown sons and a grandson.

I am a retired teacher who loves gardening and reading. I am currently working on writing a novel.