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Book Review of Inside the O'Briens

Inside the O'Briens
BettySunshine avatar reviewed on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2


I have not yet read Lisa Genovas two previous books, but I certainly will now. The OBrien family is one that most people can relate to. The father Joe is a policemen. Oldest son JJ is a fireman, and he and his wife have just gotten pregnant with their first child. Daughter Meghan is a ballet dancer. Katie teaches yoga. Patrick, the youngest, is basically a goof-off. Typical family, until Joe starts dropping things, begins having violent outbursts and involuntary muscular movements. He finally is diagnosed with Huntingtons Disease.

According to an Internet site, Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited disorder that affects the brain. Each person whose parent has HD has a 50% chance of inheriting the disorder. Onset of symptoms range from 35-50 years old. Juvenile cases occur in people less than 20 years of age. Symptoms are mild at first and are often barely noticeable but usually worsen over 15-20 years. Physical symptoms may include: abnormal body movements that worsen over time, including sudden jerks or uncontrolled movements of the limbs or trunk, facial grimacing, walking that is unsteady or dance-like; difficulty with eating, dressing, sitting, and caring for oneself; difficulty swallowing, grunting or poor articulation of speech, weight loss.

Lisa Genova did an amazing job of writing how Joe slowly descends into a life obsessed with HD. With great sensitivity, she explores how each member of the family deals with the news. Each of the children struggle with the decision of whether to be tested or not. The fear the entire family has that the unborn baby may have inherited the gene felt so real. Ms. Genova also has the family learning to depend upon friends in time of greatest need. Joe, once a very proud man, now has to deal with the horrified looks he gets from people due to loss of control of his own body. But his fellow police buddies have his back. Joe actually comes up with a humorous way of dealing with peoples stares. Loved it!

The courage of the family and how each member chooses to deal with the future was just so realistic. However I thought I would feel, some member of the family describes feeling the same way. These characters are so very real. They are not perfect; they reveal their fears, their anger, their confusion. They could be our neighbors, our friends, or they could be us.


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