Saturday, May 9, 2015

Inside the O'Briens... a book review

An amazing and heart-rending read....
an insider's look showing how to live well, and die honorably, with Huntington's Disease.

Publisher: Gallery Books
Available April 2015
ISBN 9781476717777
Medical Fiction

Publisher's Description:

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.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Never having read any of Lisa Genova's previous books, I was totally unprepared for the open and honest portrayal of a family living with Huntington's Disease... the ups, the downs, the anger, the fear.  We have been given a gift to not only learn about the disease itself, but also the challenges and unknowns for families living with this horrendous diagnosis.

Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bate College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University.  With her training in the neurosciences and her wonderful storytelling, she has crafted a story with characters who could very well be our neighbors.  We are given an "insider's" look into the devastating physical and emotional challenges of families living with Huntington's Disease.

I look forward to reading Still Alice about a Harvard professor who suffers early onset Alzheimer's Disease.  Then, just maybe, I will see the motion picture created from the book.

I received a complimentary e-copy of Inside the O'Briens from NetGalley and Gallery Books for my honest review.

Happy reading,


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