Lisa Genova simply can't write a bad book. Her latest, Inside the O'Briens is another absolutely fantastic read.
Genova is a neuroscientist. Each of her novels has brain function or brain injury as a starting point. (Still Alice has just been made into a movie)
Forty-four year old Joe O'Brien has been a cop in Charleston, Massachusetts for twenty four years. He, his wife Rosie and his four adult children all live in the brownstone that Joe grew up in. When he starts having temper outbursts, a few muscle spasms and momentary mental lapses, he writes if off to age and fatigue. But....they get worse. Rosie and the kids are noticing more and it's happening at work - a dangerous situation. When Rosie finally gets Joe to a doctor, they are stunned to hear Joe's diagnosis - Huntington's Disease - a neurological condition that is fatal. And it's genetic - his children have a 50/50 chance of also having the disease.
Wow. Genova takes us inside this tight knit family through Joe and his daughter Katie's eyes. The uncertainty, the anger, the denial, the aftermath, the hope, the dreams and above all the love of this family for each other. I know these are characters in a book, but I honesty felt like Genova was actually writing about a real family. The interactions, the dialogue and the situations had me feeling like I was sitting at the table with them, having Sunday dinner.
I had previously heard of Huntington's Disease, but learned so very much about it from Inside the O'Briens, from both a medical, societal and personal perspective. Yes, the book has the disease as a basis, but it is the family of O'Briens that stayed with me after I turned the last page. Poignant, heartwarming, heartbreaking and oh so very, very good. Read an excerpt of Inside the O'Briens.
You can connect with Lisa Genova on Twitter as well as on Facebook.