Title: Inside the O’Briens
Author: Lisa Genova
Source: Free eBook from NetGalley
Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review (and trust me, honest is always what you’ll get).
Summary: Joe O’Brien is an Irish-American Boston cop, born and raised in Charlestown, MA. Happily married with four grown children, Joe is happy with his life. Then he starts having odd symptoms like unintentional body movements and having odd flashes of rage that are completely unlike the Joe his friends and family know. When people start to think Joe has a drinking problem, his wife insists that he go see a doctor. After that Joe’s life, and the life of his whole family, will never be the same.
Review: The whole book is written from the perspective of Joe and his daughter Katie. In so doing, it offers insights into what it is like to have Huntington’s disease, and what it’s like to know that you have a 50/50 chance of having it and being faced with the choice of knowing your fate or not.
The book was well-written, and I instantly liked the family and empathized with the difficulty of their situation. Of course, I feel I learned a great deal about Huntington’s disease, which I suspect is really the point. Genova is, after all, a Harvard educated neuroscientist (among many other things), and her first novel was about Alzheimer’s, so obviously her primary intent is to educate the masses by mixing fiction and non-fiction, and she does a good job of this.
I did enjoy the O’Brien’s (even if Katie’s position on finding out whether or not she was positive for the Huntington’s gene was frustrating), but I have to say that I never shed a tear, and I am a huge crier. HUGE. And I feel like I should have with this kind of book, that to really breakthrough, to really wake people up, especially those who are tough to get through to, the pain of this disease should have been so visceral that even the hardened would shed a tear or two. But this soft-hearted woman with eyes that are often mistaken for waterfalls (what with all the random crying) didn’t even have the urge to hold back tears. And that’s why I gave it a B-. The information was there, the connection to the characters was decent, the writing was good enough, but I feel like this book should have broken me, and it didn’t.