Monday, May 11, 2015

Inside the O’Briens

Lisa Genova

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. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Joe O’Brien is diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. There is a fifty-fifty chance his four children will also be diagnosed with the disease. Their story is told in the alternating voice of Joe and his youngest daughter Katie.

What a journey! Lisa Genova has created such likeable characters. Joe is like any Dad who loves and protects his family. His diagnosis is not only heartbreaking for him, but knowing that his children might also have the disease adds to his struggles. Youngest daughter Katie is just starting to come into her own and has to decide whether or not to do the genetic testing to see if she has the disease.

I quickly got lost in this story. I couldn’t wait to read how Joe and Katie dealt with this life changing situation. Both of them used a mix of love, faith and hope. I thought this was inspiring. My first book to read by Ms. Genova, but it won’t be my last.

Many thanks to Gallery Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.


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