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 *

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