"A suspenseful and heart wrenching story of a family facing a devastating fate!"
Reviewed by Audrey Lawrence
Posted January 3, 2016
Literature and Fiction
Joe picks up the frying pan, sends it flying across the
and it smashes into the kitchen wall as Joe's grown
over for their usual family Sunday dinner stare on in
shocked silence. What is happening to their normally
In his Irish Catholic Charlestown neighbourhood (the Town
locals call it), everyone knows Joe O'Brien. He is a cop
with the Boston Police Department and in or out of
Joe has a solid and well-regarded reputation. With a
friendly and humourous nature, Joe is well-liked by
and family and takes he takes pride in his work. Lately,
however, things have been going amiss: reports being
back to be redone, team members noticing him making
gestures, acting confused and now his family noticing this
increasingly violent and volatile temper.
Life goes and with more strange incidents. Then the
telephone rings. Joe has been reported for drinking and
other problems at work. Joe definitely hates the idea of
going to a doctor, but he has no choice. What could
possibly be wrong with him? What can help him from falling
INSIDE THE O'BRIENS is the fourth book by the
internationally recognized and New York Times best-selling
author Lisa Genova. When Lisa's own grandmother suffered
from Alzheimer's Disease, Genova, a Harvard-educated
Neuroscientist, wanted to understand what was happening at
an emotional level as well as at a molecular level. From
her research, Genova wrote the highly acclaimed book Still
Alice (2009). As my own husband had Alzheimer's, I
a copy as soon as I could and have been raving about ever
since as it was and still is so helpful to me. I also
enjoyed her other novels, Left Neglected (2011) on
hemispatial neglect and Love Anthony (2012) on Autism.
So, to say I am a huge fan of Genova's novels would be
putting it mildly. Still, as much as I relished all her
previous books, I believe INSIDE THE O'BRIENS is her best
work yet. With an effective balance of providing factual
information in the various dialogues as well as strong
character development of the family members, Genova
compassionately and realistically brings the full cruelty
Huntington's disease to vivid life.
As the main character, Joe O'Brien hears the fateful news
that he may have this neurodegenerative disease, he and
wife are in shock. There is no known cure for
and certain death within 10-20 years of onset. The
devastating effects to the person do not even end there.
children are involved, they have a 50% possibility of also
carrying the disease. Genova very empathically shows not
only the impact of the ongoing progression of HD on this
wonderful and fairly normal family as well as shows the
emotional upheavals to their adult children as they ponder
whether or not they want to be tested and how that
impacts their current and future lives.
While INSIDE THE O'BRIENS is an emotion packed and
insightful story about a debilitating disease, it is also
powerfully and irresistible story of resilience and family
love as Joe struggles to live in the most optimal way he
can. INSIDE THE O'BRIENS is a story of faith, doubt and
dealing with adversity with humour, so sometimes you just
have to laugh out loud as they do during some tense
INSIDE THE O'BRIENS is such a realistic and poignant read
that at times I had to put the book down just to catch my
breath and think about what I had just read, then continue
reading. I heartily recommend this inspiring novel to
anyone and I have been raving about INSIDE THE O'BRIENS to
everyone I know!
For me, INSIDE THE O'BRIENS is a story that will never
leave your heart and will haunt you forever!
From the New York Times bestselling author of
Still Alice Lisa Genova comes a powerful and
transcendent new novel about a family struggling with the
impact of Huntington’s disease.
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.
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