Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer, a devoted husband, proud father, 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 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.
That ending though. I was not prepared for it. That is the only time I’m going to mention the ending because I do not want to ruin the ending for those of you who haven’t had the chance to read this wonderful book yet.
Inside the O’Briens is going to break everyone’s hearts starting April 7th.
I nabbed this one up the second I saw it on NetGalley because I had heard so many good things about Still Alice which I still haven’t read (whoops) and I wanted to be one of the first people to read her newest book. I read it in just a week and a half at every possible second, but when I was done I had to take a week just to finish processing it and to decide how to even begin to review it.
This book kept me up multiple nights in a row, thinking “What would I do if this happened to me?” It makes me a little nervous to read Still Alice because that one will definitely hit closer to home. For the most part Genova had such raw emotions showing, I felt so bad for them and almost started crying in the middle of my lunch break because of it, however this was not always consistent and some points could have been more emotional in my opinion.
I could find a little bit of myself in everyone, from Joe the cop, to Meg the ballerina, to Katie the yogi. Being able to relate to every character just made the impact even heavier because the reader realizes the disease could hit any one of the characters. No one but the mom was safe from this disease and even she suffered the consequences of it.
Lisa Genova obviously did a lot of research, I read through the acknowledgments and there were so many people involved. For this I applaud you, it makes me feel as though it’s not just a piece of fiction, but a piece of each of these people that is immortalized in this book. This also helped make the book gain credibility in my eyes and reliability.
She gives statistics thoughout the book and for me, this made it more real. One of these statistics was that there are more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, but only 30,000 people in the United States have Huntington’s disease. That means there are 30,000 people with families and lives getting ruined by this. This novel makes it seem as though those people have a little more of a voice.
There’s something strange about reading a book about someone who is going to die, not because of some spoiler but because it’s medically impossible.