By: Lisa Genova

Published: April 7, 2015

Publisher: Gallery Books


Bestselling author, Lisa Genova, has written a book that raises awareness of Huntington’s Disease the way her book STILL ALICE brought attention to Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. With comprehensive and meticulous research, Genova tells the story of a Boston family dealing with the shock of Huntington’s Disease (HD) affecting their family.

Joe O’Brien is a quintessential Boston police officer. He values his faith, his family, his heritage, and most of all, his brotherhood with the Boston police force. His work ethic shows that you give it your all, like standing outside Fenway Park for hours dealing with the drunks after the game when you really wanted to be inside watching it. He works extra hours to make sure his reports are detailed and precise enough to hold up in court. He is the ultimate husband to Rosie and father to his four children, all adults now, and living the kind of life he has ingrained in them.

HD begins slowly: difficulty remembering certain details, clumsily tripping over his own feet, and angry outbursts.  Rumors begin that Joe O’Brien is a drunk. Fellow cops start to talk. His mom was a drunk and died a drunk in an institution when he was a child…or did she? Rosie finally convinces Joe to see a doctor and the diagnosis is nothing that they would have imagined. Now Joe has to tell his children, knowing that each of them has a 50% chance of also having the disease inside them.

Genova takes us through a year of Joe and his family living with the beginnings of HD. Through Joe and his family, the reader learns to live life to the fullest, even while going through the “cruelest disease known to man”. The characters aren’t perfect and screw up which makes them relatable and honest. As Joe’s children battle with the decision of whether to be tested for the gene or not, the reader wonders, “Would I want to know?”. The majority of the story focuses on Joe and his daughter Katie, a yoga instructor. Katie is struggling with being tested and finding out her fate while knowing the fate of two out of her three siblings. She struggles with guilt, anger, and making choices about her future, while watching her father deteriorate and succumb to the horrible disease.

My only disappointment in this novel was the ending. When you come to the last word in the book without realizing it is the last word and you are left hanging, it can be a bit frustrating. Hope is a central theme in this novel as well as awareness. Even without all the answers, you can hope that Joe has taught all of us how to live in the moment and with dignity. Fans of Genova will find her newest novel to be memorable, inspiring, and informative. Genova also encourages readers to make a donation to the HD Human Biology Project, hoping that someday a cure will be found.

Lisa Genova – source

Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels STILL ALICE, LEFT NEGLECTED, and LOVE ANTHONY. For more on Genova, visit her website, You can also find her on Facebook, HERE, an Twitter, HERE.  

If you would like to purchase INSIDE THE O’BRIENS, click the photo below:

Thanks to the publisher for sending an eBook for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews. 
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  1. Katherine Scott Jones on May 26, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    You've reminded me I still need to read Still Alice. I appreciate your thoughtful, honest review. This book sounds a lot like Five Days Left, which I read and reviewed earlier this year. It knocked my socks off while also leaving me wanting to rewrite the ending. Powerful story–but very very tough.

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