Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a powerful new novel that does for Huntington’s Disease what her debut Still Alicedid for Alzheimer’s.

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-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. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. 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. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

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.

My thoughts-

During Oscar season, I always have a goal of going to see all of the movies nominated.This year, I saw so many movies I feel in love with and several that were adapted from books that I now feel like I need to read. One of my favorite movies that I saw was Still Alice, based on the book of the same name by Lisa Genova. After seeing the movie, I knew I would need to read the book and found out what else the author had written. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Lisa Genova is a neuroscientist and her "thing" is writing about neurological disorders. This fascinates me and makes me want to read all of her books. I was excited to see she had a new book coming out and that it was about a subject I know little about, Huntington's disease. The book starts off as Joe starts to show some of the anger symptoms that can come along with Huntington's and then flash fowards to a few years in the future when he finally realizes something is wrong. The book mostly focuses on Joe's kids and how they deal with learning of their dad's diagnosis and with who he has become as a result of his diagnosis. It also is about how each kid deals with the fact that they have a pretty big chance of getting the disease themselves. I thought this was a really interesting story because it shows several points of view and things can be seen so differently by several different people. It also was a beautiful story in which Joe learns the truth about his own mother, whom he always thought died an alcoholic. Stories like this with heavy subject matter are always an opportunity to help explain something to the masses that we may not have previously known about. Genova does a great job giving us a peak into the life of a family with a Huntington's diagnosis and also as an advocate for the cause. I recommend this book to anyone who likes learning about new things, who is interested in neurology or who likes a good drama.

Inside the O'Briens will be available April 7. You can pre-order it on Amazon.com.

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