Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review: Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Where do I start with Lisa Genova's Inside the O'Briens? I'm often faced with that decision when starting a review for a novel I believe brings so much to the table in terms of its insight, relatability, and the discussion it leaves in its wake. In an effort to not spoil anything I will be brief and only highlight the things that I still think about after reading this novel.

Joe O'Brien is an officer for the Boston Police Department, husband to Rosie, and father to four offspring when he finds out the most devastating news of his life. He's gene positive for Huntington's Disease. After a few too many mishaps, sporadic movements, and out of character rampages, he is convinced by his wife to seek help. She thinks he's gone crazy. After getting news of his true diagnosis, crazy seems like a lesser evil. 

The novel progresses by telling the Joe's story by cleverly placing intricate details of the neurodegenitive disease and what it means for his future, and his family's future. He will become someone who is unable to control his movements, thinking, and behavior. His cognitive and motor skills will continue to decline until his untimely death. What's worse is that there is a 50% chance of passing this along to his children. 

Inside the O'Briens explore how one Irish Catholic family tries to hold it all together while things seemingly fall apart. Joe can't help but feel the guilt of passing this along to his children while a few of his children battle wanting to know or not. This is where I was most intrigued.

We are given the most in depth story of Katie, who struggles between knowing and not knowing. Moving forward with life or allowing Huntington dictate how she would spend her life. Relating to her story is easiest and it constantly made me wonder: Would I want to know? Would I have the courage to find out what my future holds?

Overall, Inside the O'Briens is an interesting, sometimes heartbreaking look into the life of a family who deals with the cards they're dealt. I recommend this book to anyone who shows even a little interest in the subject and wants to get lost in a novel that will make you think, 'would I want to know'?  ****

Copy provided by Simon and Schuster via Netgalley

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