The book introduces us to the O'Briens, an Irish Catholic family from Boston who have just learned that at age 44, Police Officer Joe O'Brien has been diagnosed with Huntington's disease. We are invited to Sunday suppers with the family, private walks and on-duty moments with Joe, and everyday life with youngest daughter Katie, all while they come to terms with the cruelty of the disease and wrestle with the choices they are each faced with now that Huntington's has invaded their lives. Joe and wife Rosie's four grown children have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the gene from Joe. Inside the O'Briens brings us along on their emotional rollercoaster as each of the children wrestle with the decision to find out if they carry the gene that will end their lives, or go on living without knowing if Huntington's will touch them at all in the future.
While reading this, I experienced all the fear, confusion, anger and despair that each family member was feeling at the moment, along with their love for each other, their moments of clarity and understanding, and most of all, their hope. For 3/4 of the book, I read through tears. The O'Briens may not exist, but the Meghan Sullivan's do exist, (I always read the acknowledgements!) and are the reason books like this are so important. I knew nothing about Huntington's disease before reading this book. Visit www.LisaGenova.com and click on the Readers in Action button to make a donation to the HD Human Biology Project.
Inside the O'Briens: A Novel by Lisa Genova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
One of my status updates while reading this book was something like, "Wow. I want to read this book non-stop, but I have to keep taking breaks. It's so powerful!" My recommendations for anyone planning on reading this- keep a box of tissues at hand. And don't read this in a public place. Oh hell- read it in a public place- so when anyone asks why you are crying you can respond, "Huntington's." Get the message out there. Thank you, Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book, and to Lisa Genova for writing it.
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