Thursday, April 9, 2015

Inside The O'Briens by Lisa Genova

At the end of December, I read that Lisa Genova (of 'Still Alice' fame) had a new book coming out in 2015. Luckily for me, it was on NetGalley and I was approved! I've read all of her previous books, and admire that she can take a medical disease/disorder and make it completely readable. I love that I'm learning something not only about the physical body, but also about human nature, compassion, and love.

Inside The O'Briens examines what happens to a family after a Huntington's diagnosis. In case you don't know, Huntington's is a neurological degenerative disease that has no treatment, no cure, and sadly, is genetically inheritable.

Joe is a 41 year old cop who absolutely loves both his job and his close-knit family. After experiencing some strange symptoms, Joe goes to the doctor for a checkup, where he later receives the diagnosis. Perhaps more devastating than the diagnosis itself, is being told that any, or all, of his four grown children could carry the same gene.

Can you even imagine? Finding out that you have a degenerative disease, and oh, hey, the people you love most might develop it, too. Oh, and you are the one who passed it to them. I can't even fathom what would go through a person's mind. Genova delves right in to that exact question and examines it

I will say that it was a little slow, but that's only because there is a lot of family development. Once the diagnosis is revealed, the pace picks up and the book really becomes interesting. There are tests that can be done to see if you are gene-positive (does not mean that you will develop it, but the chances are higher), so each of Joe's children must decide if they want to find out or not.

Finding out why each child chose to find out or not was definitely my favourite part of the book. I found myself nodding along to their reasons for and against finding out, and tried to figure out what I would do in that position. I'm still trying to decide what I'd do. I especially enjoyed reading about Joe's youngest daughter, Katie. The story mostly takes place through Joe's perspective, but Katie has some chapters, too. I do wish that each family member had their own chapters, but that would have probably made the book really long.

I ended up giving this about a 3.5 out of 5 stars, because while it was very interesting, it was a little slow in places, and I didn't enjoy it as much as 'Still Alice'. It's still a great read, and I will always read whatever Lisa Genova writes because I just love to learn as I read.

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