Sunday, 3 January 2016

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Joe O'Brien is a Boston cop; his physical stamina and methodical mind have seen him through decades policing the city streets, while raising a family with his wife Rosie. When he starts committing uncharacteristic errors - mislaying his police weapon, trouble writing up reports, slurred speech - he attributes them to stress. Finally, he agrees to see a doctor and is handed a terrifying, unexpected diagnosis: Huntington's disease. 

Not only is Joe's life set to change beyond recognition, but each of his four grown children has a fifty-fifty chance of inheriting the disease. Observing her potential future play out in his escalating symptoms, his pretty yoga teacher daughter Katie wrestles with how to make the most of the here and now, and how to care for her dad who is, inside, always an O'Brien.

I read Still Alice by Lisa Genova earlier last year and it really was a touching thought provoking read so I was eager to start the new release by this author Inside the O’Briens to see what the author has instore for me this time around.

The O’Briens are a close knit chaotic family who are about to have devastation brought into their family after hard working dad Joe who has been a Boston Cop for years begins to start making errors and having the odd unexplained stumble as well as having a very short fuse and when he finally agrees to see a doctor he is faced with a heart-breaking diagnosis….. Joe has Huntington ’s disease.
Slowly Joe begins to face more symptoms and the news of the disease rocks the family to the core but they all have a difficult decision to make, do they take the test to see if they are looking at the same future as their father?

Lisa Genova has done it again, she has taken a disease which many of us can claim to have heard of but she takes things a step further and pulls us into the O’Briens family to see not only what life is like for the sufferer as the disease begins to take a hold but also on the effects of family members too. This really was a learning curve for me as I didn’t realise there is actually a test that you can take to find out if you have the gene and it really had me questioning if I was in the same position as Joe’s children would I want to take the test and know or not.

It was heart wrenching watching Joe slowly deteriorate and also how people around react to the symptoms of the disease. The author has quite clearly taken a lot of time to research and spend time with people who suffer with the disease as her knowledge shines through in this book and everything was handled with such grace but at the same time it really hit home too that we need more awareness for Huntington’s and I really hope that this book manages to generate more donations so that one day we can hope to have a cure for this devastating disease.

My one thing I didn’t like about this book was the ending, I don’t want to give anything away so all I am going to say is I really connected with a particular character in the book and I felt like I was going along their journey with them so I would have liked to have taken the last step with them but we were instead left on a cliff hanger. The strange thing is remember finding the same thing with Still Alice the ending being so abrupt, I can understand that in both books the illnesses that are covered both lead to lives ending abruptly, but both books still just stop with no notice and have left me just hanging and a little frustrated.

I am looking forward to seeing this book made into a film to see if it does the book justice. I look forward to another book by this author I just hope the ending isn’t the same next time around.

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