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Review: "Inside the O'Briens" by Lisa Genova

From Goodreads:  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.

My Thoughts:  All I can say is 'WOW.'  I had no idea what to expect from this book but it was seriously one of the best books I've read this year.  It was beautifully written; it was heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time.  I spent a lot of the book in tears and had to put it down a few times because I was so overwhelmed by the emotions it evoked.

The story, at its heart, is about an average family dealing with a devastating disease.  While we get to know some characters more than others, they are all well-developed, strong and interesting.  Joe was such an inspirational character; to watch him receive a death sentence and just keep going and trying was really moving.  He had moments where he wanted to give up but overall, he really tried not to let the disease beat him and  he was so brave.  I also loved that he started walking around in t-shirts with information about Huntington's on it. 

I had never heard of Huntington's Disease before reading this book.  Despite knowing nothing about it, it seems to me that Ms. Genova must have done an extensive amount of research when writing this book.  There was so much information about the disease in the book.  I personally think she did a good job of incorporating this information into the story so it never felt unnecessary.

I didn't love the ending because it was kind of open-ended but I think it fit the story (I'm kind of selfish about endings, I want to know everything before it's over!).  I think as a whole this is a fantastic book that I will be recommending to everyone I know.  I now feel the need to read everything Ms. Genova has written because I loved this one so much! 4.5 stars.

I received this book from the publicist in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I found this to be very moving.

  2. Glad u enjoyed this as well. HD is one of the worst and cruelest diseases ever.


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