Inside the O'Briens
By Lisa Genova
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: 4/7/2015
Format: Other Format
My Rating: 5 Stars
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.
A special thank you to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
One of my favorite authors, Lisa Genova, award-winning New York Times bestselling author, and neuroscientist is at the "top-of-her-game" with riveting, INSIDE THE O'BRIENS. An extraordinary story and one you will not soon forget, long after the book ends. Meet the O’Briens. A strong Irish Catholic family in Charlestown, a neighborhood of Boston only one square mile between Charles and Mystic Rivers, divided into two neighborhoods. The Bottom of the Hill – the poor Irish and the Top of the Hill by St. Francis Church home to the Lace Curtain Irish. Many of the families live in tight rows of triple decker homes called Townies and they all know one another. Joe and Rosie live on the first floor, son- twenty-three year old Patrick lives with them. JJ, the older son and his wife Colleen live on the second floor, and single daughters Katie and Meghan are roommates and live on the third floor, and of course lovable dog, Yaz. However, this happy family is about to have their world crushed, with news which will forever change their lives. Father: Joe O’Brien, third generation, Irish. Police officer, a tough guy, age 43, dad of four, husband, loves his beer, family, work and his sports. His mother died of HD (except he just thought she was a drunk and crazy at the time). He is about to face the horrific disease. There is a fifty-percent chance it can passed along if the gene is present and it will not be pretty. What will happen if he can no longer be the strong one of the family? Mother: Rosie, wife and mother of four, loves her weekly family Sunday suppers. She is a devoted Irish Catholic - religious. All her children still reside in the family home on different floors and would do anything for her family, but do not be late for Sunday supper. Can she survive being the caretaker and watch her family fall apart in front of her? Will her strong faith be tested? JJ: Son, A firefighter, and husband to Coleen, a devoted man and expecting a child on the way. Will his future be secure or will he have the gene? What about this family? Megan: Daughter. Beautiful and talented professional ballet dancer with the Boston Ballet with a rigorous schedule. A hard worker and Katie is quite envious of her. She is full of life. Could this disease get to her? Katie: Daughter. Teaches yoga, the baby girl, and feels a little left out and not quite as smart as her older sister; always living in her shadow. She would love to move away from this town, meet a guy, and have her own yoga studio; however, she barely makes enough to survive. She loves her job and loves her inspiratinal quotes written all over her walls – and now she has a love interest she is keeping from the family. Could she have the disease? If so, does she want to know and how will it change her relationship and future? Patrick: Son. Young, single, wild and crazy. A bartender at the local pub, stays out all night partying, dates around, and not very dependable (however, keeps lively humor going in the family). He is always late to family supper, but charming in his own way. He definitely does not want to have the test to see if he has the HD gene (he would rather jump off a bridge). An emotional, and compelling story of a family wrecked by HD. From the fears, pain, denial, sadness to love, coping, escape, to acceptance. The scene with Katie and Joe was award-winning the way she took control and gave her dad the most important message of love to keep him strong as a role model for them all – and the yoga interaction was priceless! (Loved the t-shirts, and the humor mixed with the tragedy, to keep you smiling and crying at the same time). An engaging thought-provoking page-turner which grips you from beginning to end. No one can tell it like, Lisa Genova. Thank you for telling this incredible story. On a personal note, I dated a guy several years ago in Atlanta and his father had HD. I saw firsthand, the devastation and destruction, both emotional and physical which wrecked havoc on everyone in the family and loved ones—heartbreaking. Genova tackles highly charged HD-Huntington's Disease with love, compassion, incredible insights, understanding, emotion, research, compassion, and humor. Call to Action: In addition to creating compassionate awareness of the disease HD, Lisa has created a call to action, by requesting every reader to make a donation to the HD Human Biology Project, an innovative research project aimed at understanding the biology of Huntington’s which is necessary for discovering the course. Together we can be part of the progress that will lead to the cure of one of the cruelest diseases known to man, and currently no treatment and no cure. If you loved Still Alice, Left Neglected, and Love Anthony; Inside the O'Briens (have read all of her books), tops the chart and will exceed all your expectations! Highly recommend. If you have not read Genova' previous books, you are missing out. Would love to be a visitor for the O'Briens' Sunday night weekly suppers-what a strong family bond.
About the Author
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. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Still Alice, Left Neglected, and Love Anthony.
Still Alice has spent over 40 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 2.1 million copies in print, and it has been translated into 31 languages. It was chosen as one of the thirty titles for World Book Night 2013. Still Alice is now a major motion picture from Sony Pictures Classics.
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 travels worldwide, speaking about Alzheimer’s Disease, traumatic brain injury, and autism. She has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, 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.
Lisa’s fourth novel, Inside The O'Briens, is about a family living with Huntington’s Disease. She lives with her family on Cape Cod. Website