Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and the author Lisa Genova for granting me the permission to read this ARC of the book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Your efforts are much appreciated...
Dr. Lisa Genova a neurologist wrote this book to bring forth awareness on the most cruel disease ever know to man - Huntington's.
I must admit I was not aware of Huntington's before I read this book. I must also say I did not think much about the disease which statistically only 37,000 people suffer in USA… There are bigger stuff happening was my take on it… until I read the book…
Huntington's is cruel - it rightly called out by Dr. Genova. There can be nothing, I repeat nothing worse than watching yourself waste away bit by bit and do nothing to stop it. Lisa Genova paints an haunting story of the O'Briens there Joe gets diagnosed with Huntington's.
It is difficult when you know you are going to waste away to nothingness, but it is even more challenging knowing that you may have passed on the disease to your kids. There is nothing more hurting, more cruel or emotionally draining to a parent than knowing that your kids are going to suffer in their life and you are cause of it…. My heart went out to Joe. From a strapping, in shape, physically fit police officer to a wasted away person not even in control of his own limbs. From being self sufficient to being dependent on people around you for even the smallest thing in life.
While Joe struggles to find balance in his life after being forced into retirement with disability, he also has to deal with knowing that 2 of his 4 children are bound to get the disease. Both of them in the best of their health and at the peak of their challenging professions, a firefighter and a ballet dancer. To complicate the problem Joe is about to be a grand parent and they don't know if their grandson may/may not be infected with this disease… it makes the struggles in their life almost seem inhuman. Disease is a great leveler, it does not do emotions.
As Joe tries to find a semblance of balance within himself, his youngest daughter struggles with her own set of problems. Growing up in the shadow of a talented older sister (the ballerina), Katie is still trying to find her place in life and dealing with the complexities of being in a relationship with a black man and having trouble bringing him into open with her Irish Catholic family. She also struggles to move ahead in life when confronted with the scepter of Huntington's hanging over her head.
The book in essence is the parallel stories of Joe and Katie, as one struggles to come to terms with what is and the other struggles to come to terms with what may be. Ultimately it is the story of Joe trying to set an example for his children that the disease cannot be beaten, but it can definitely be lived with.
Inside the O'Briens gave me a healthy respect for the message that Dr. Genova is trying to convey. Bring about an awareness for Huntington's while helping the readers understand that Huntington's can cause you problems, but it cannot take away from you your quality of life.
A quality read which gives insight into how really life is…