Sunday, April 26, 2015

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'Briens

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova 
Print and e-book, 352 pages
Published April 7, 2015 by Gallery Books

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.

My thoughts about Inside the O'Briens ~~

Oh my, what a beautifully written glimpse into the dark side of a horrible disease that allows us to see the way the O'Briens deny its existence in their lives, then learn to accept it, and then learn to live with it, the best way that they can.
'This is a room full of zombies. This is purgatory, a wretched place of indefinite and possibly interminable waiting between heaven and hell. Then again, Joe can't imagine anyone here destined for anything good. There is no heaven here. This room is a holding cell for the damned, and while Joe feels bad for the misfortune of these poor souls, he wants no part of it.'
The O'Briens have four adult children and each one of them reacts differently as they think about the impact this disease will have on their future. While we learn about all four, the author focuses on Katie and her life as she struggles with what this will mean to her and how it will affect those she loves. I love that we get to get inside her head and go through the process with her.

This story and what this family was going through really opened my eyes, not only to educate me about Huntington's Disease, in particular, but to also be more accepting of those around who may be suffering from HD or other diseases. We just never know what someone is going through and we should not judge people by what we see and perceive their life to be.
'To the uneducated or unloving eye, Joe is horrifying, unacceptable, and then invisible.'
About the author

I'm a Harvard-trained Neuroscientist, a Meisner-trained actress, and an entirely untrained writer!

My first novel, Still Alice, winner of the 2008 Bronte Prize, nominated for 2010 Indies Choice Debut Book of the Year by the American Booksellers Association, and winner of the 2011 Bexley Book of the Year Award spent over 40 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. 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. 

Originally self-published, I sold it out of the trunk of my car for almost a year before it was bought at auction by Simon & Schuster.

Still Alice is now a major motion picture from Sony Pictures Classics.

Left Neglected, also a New York Times Bestseller, was a #1 Indie Next Pick, the Borders “Book You’ll Love” for January 2011, and the #4 Indie Reading Group Pick for summer 2011, and a Richard & Judy Book Club Pick. 

Love Anthony, also a New York Times bestseller, is about autism. It 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.”

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