Monday, June 22, 2015

Inside the O'Briens

Inside the O'BriensFrom 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.

I am a huge fan of Lisa Genova's novel, Still Alice.  I was hoping to have the same feelings while reading this novel, but it just didn't evoke the same emotions for me.  I actually know someone who died from Huntington's disease, so I did feel a connection to the main character.  Where I felt the author took a wrong turn was only exploring Joe's story and Katie's story.  What about the other siblings?  They felt so two dimensional because the book didn't give me anything to connect with them.  And the wife, we never heard from her.  I saw the affects the disease took on the spouse of the person I knew and I felt it could have been so powerful and helpful to others facing the same thing.  I know that sometimes a book with multiple perspectives can be overwhelming but I felt this novel could have greatly benefited from this format.  It is a great read to familiarize yourself with this awful disease, but just wanted more.  As a side note, I was annoyed and bothered with how much this book used the "f" word, especially when there really seemed to need for it.      

* I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Friday, June 12, 2015

We Never Asked for Wings

We Never Asked for WingsFrom the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers comes her much-anticipated new novel about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds.

For fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, now fifteen, and Luna, six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life.

Navigating new terrain is challenging for Letty, especially as Luna desperately misses her grandparents and Alex, who is falling in love with a classmate, is unwilling to give his mother a chance. Letty comes up with a plan to help the family escape the dangerous neighborhood and heartbreaking injustice that have marked their lives, but one wrong move could jeopardize everything she’s worked for and her family’s fragile hopes for the future.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh blends gorgeous prose with compelling themes of motherhood, undocumented immigration, and the American Dream in a powerful and prescient story about family.

I wanted to love this book, I mean I really did want to love it.  Especially after reading the author's acknowledgments about being so invested in the book and concerned about reception for her second novel.  But unfortunately, I didn't love it like I hoped I would.  I enjoyed reading it, but somewhere along the way it just fell flat for me.  There were just too many things, too many stories, too many circumstances that seemed resolved too easily or just plain overlooked that I felt really could have made the story more whole had they been handled differently.  I will still read her books in the future, but it just didn't quite captivate me like The Language of Flowers did. 

* I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Friday, June 5, 2015

Family or Money?

17720896 This is a simple story. It begins with an immigrant grocer selling vegetables from a pushcart and ends in a court case with two billion dollars at risk. Two brothers, sons of the founder, inherit equal shares of a burgeoning food chain. One dies, and his widow, suspecting that she is being short-changed from profits earned, sues to recover.

Now it becomes complicated. The author, an insider with over thirty years working in the food industry, spins a yarn of a twisting, turning labyrinth that features a love tryst, intrigue, betrayal, and greed. The characters and dialogue are real, authentic, and they draw you from the printed page into the middle of this fast-moving action.

Russell Riley is the highest-ranking non-family member of this company and it's his job to protect and grow the business while the two families duke it out in court. But even he can't stay entirely above the fray because he owns stock that could provide the swing vote for control.

If you are in the mood for an insider's take on a nasty and vitriolic family food fight that ended in a celebrated court case, Blood Feud is it.

A book that can simply be described as the breakdown of a family by money.  While I found this book to be engaging, it seemed just like so many other books that involve family business and greed.  I was hoping for a surprise element or something that would differentiate it from other stories.  While disappointed with the overall storyline, the one thing I did enjoy was learning about the supermarket industry.  That were definitely the most fascinating aspect of this book. But beyond that, it's not one I would highly recommend.

 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *