Inside the O'Briens
by Lisa Genova
Synopsis: Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.
Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?
As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.
Review: To start off, this book has a lot of swearing, in particular the f word. Some of it really seems to fit because Joe is a police officer from Boston and seems to be a born and bred inner city Bostonian. The swearing did get to be too much for me in the beginning. It does seem to ease up later in the book. I did find it hard to connect to Joe probably because he is so different from me: he's a male police officer from the inner city and neighborhood that he loves that I don't know anything about. I just didn't feel emotionally connected to these characters although I did tear up a few times. I did like the story and the trade off of narrators from Joe and his daughter Katie. It was interesting to have the perspective of someone living with Huntington's and someone who has the change of being gene positive for Huntington's but not knowing. I wish that the end didn't leave us hanging quite so much. I like closure in the books that I read and I certainly didn't get it in this book.
Rating: 3.5 stars