Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'Briens

By Lisa Genova

  • Release Date: 2015-04-07
  • Genre: Fiction & Literature
Score: 4.5
4.5
From 160 Ratings
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Description

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 Alice did 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.

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.

Reviews

  • Genova Does It Again, Humanizing the Inhuman (Huntington's Disease)

    5
    By Isisunit
    I would like to thank Gallery Books & NetGalley for granting me a copy of this e-ARC to read in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. Goodreads Teaser: "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 Alice" did 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. 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." Having read "Still Alice" I'll admit I went into this book with exceedingly high expectations, and I'm more than happy to say I wasn't disappointed in any way. If possible this book surpasses "Still Alice." Huntington's Disease has far less media exposure than Alzheimer's, but to me in many ways it is worse because you know what's coming and are mentally present for most of it. Plus the fact that it is a hereditary disease makes it exponentially harder, for many people don't show symptoms and therefore go undiagnosed until they already have a family of their own. Children that have a fifty percent chance of inheriting this living death sentence. Once again Genova tackles a tremendously challenging topic and handles it with grace and dignity, yet never shying away from the brutal reality of this disease. Her characters are already flawed, and when you suddenly throw such an explosive shock into the mix things are bound to suddenly go sideways for everyone. It's how each of the family members copes with this life altering news that makes this tale so powerful and real. Change the names and occupations and this could be anyone's story - mine, your's, your next door neighbor's. . . Though much of the story is told from Joe's and Katie's perspectives, none of those directly impacted are neglected. Between her deft handling of each character and the skillful arc of the overall story Genova has created a masterpiece that will stand the test of time. Even if we ever do find a cure for this insidious killer, this story will stand testament to not only those not lucky enough to survive long enough to benefit from the cure, but all the lives they touched along their journey. Be prepared to fall in love with the characters, to hate them, to get frustrated by them; in short to feel for them as you might feel about your own family members (by blood or choice). Keep tissues on hand, but don't be surprised to find yourself laughing out loud either, as you will run the gamut of human emotions while experiencing this story - both as you read it and well after you've finished it. I simply can't say enough good things about this powerfully moving tale, and I know that though it may take time to fully absorb all the details of this story, I'll be ready and waiting for Genova's next book!
  • Another eye-opening outstanding novel.

    5
    By Rivadita3
    An outstanding awareness-raiser of a little known genetic disease process. Told with dignity, warmth, and compassion while delivering hard, cold facts that encourages the reader to want to know more and to reach deeply into their souls to encourage more speed in the research process.
  • Inside the O'Briens

    4
    By Mully1205
    Sad subject, but very well written.
  • Inside the O'Briens

    5
    By Tykesma
    What a awe inspiring novel. I hadn't heard of HD until I read this book. I admired the courage that the family had. Patrick was my least favorite character, but I believe his aggression was his way of thumbing his nose at HD. The Father, Joe and Mother, Rosie demonstrated courage and faith even with the terrible diagnosis. The love they showed towards each other and family was wonderful. Thank you Lisa Genova!

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