Friday, April 3, 2015

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'Briens takes a look at the O'Briens, one family afflicted by Huntington's disease.

I adored this book. As with Genova's other books it was very well written. She explains the medical details in layman's terms and doesn't get bogged down with technical jargon. She not only gives the reader insight in the disease (or condition), but also gives it a face and name to which the reader can relate.

I've heard of Huntington's, but didn't really know much about it. As it turns out, I didn't know anything, really. I think I had confused some of the symptoms with Parkinson's. For instance, I didn't know HD was inherited and that each child of an affected parent has 50% chance of getting it. I also didn't know that couples wanting to have children have options or that getting tested for the gene involves some counselling. All of these details were interesting. The littler glimmers of hope only did a little to break up the heartbreaking details of this devastating disease, which "has been called the cruelest disease known to man" (page 1).

I especially loved the scene at Fenway park where Joe attended (page 328) a baseball game with his family. He compares the number of people in the park with those diagnosed with HD as well as other diseases/disorders/conditions. It was an eye-opener. I doubt I'll ever look at a crowd of people the same way again.

Genova's presentation in this book was unexpected. While it's Joe O'Brien, the family patriarch, who's been diagnosed with the disease, he isn't the main focus of the book. The other family members, one in particular, are given consideration. I don't want to give too much of the story away, so I'll leave it at that. I will say, though, that I loved this approach and particularly loved how it ended.

I've read three other books by Genova: Left Neglected, about a serious brain injury called left neglect; Love Anthony, about autism; and Still Alice, about Alzheimer's. I adored them all.

Highly recommended. I hope Genova writes many more books.

For more information about this book, please visit Simon & Schuster's website.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Lisa Genova's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Simon & Schuster for this review copy.

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova, Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster) ©2015. ISBN 9781501102554(Advance Reader's Edition), 335p.


  1. I have this one in my TBR pile and I'm looking forward to reading it! All of Genova's books have been good, I completely agree!

  2. I loved "Still Alice" because it gave me such wonderful insights into the disease my mother-in-law was struggling with at the time. I was impressed with Ms. Genova's way of taking us inside the thoughts of the ill person.

    I know nothing about Huntington's except what I learned from watching an episode of "House" on TV :) This looks like a chance for a good read and gaining knowledge at the same time. Thanks for the review.


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