by Lisa Genova (Goodreads Author)
From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a powerful new novel that does for Huntington’s Disease what her debut Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.
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.
Praised for writing that “explores the resilience of the human spirit” (The San Francisco Chronicle), Lisa Genova has once again delivered a novel as powerful and unforgettable as the human insights at its core.
Source: eARC for Honest Review Courtesy of Gallery Books via NetGalley
Genre: Adult Fiction
My Inside the O'Briens Review ...
This book took me two months to read. And the reason why is ...
I first started to read this book early April on my vacation, thinking I loved Still Alice so I couldn't wait to read this one. Big mistake. Only because I was reading this book in public. Which is a no no. Then every time I went to pick it up again I would again be heartbroken. After a couple of weeks of this I had to pull my big girl panties up and bear with the pain and carry on.
"I love you, too. I know what you're going through is terrifying and unfair and really hard. But you have to go through it. Right now, you're just standing still. You're sinking in it. Let me hold your hand and go through it with you."
Even though this book was beautifully gutting and hard to read because your heart keeps breaking. Its also fantastically real and raw. The disease alone is gutting. Now to read from the perspective of it happening to Jo and the aftermath and effects on his family.
"We don't know anyone else with HD. You're the only example we have. We're going to learn how to live and die with HD from you, Dad."
Knowing this disease can be passed on from generation makes it a tough decision to find out if you are positive for the gene or not. Now that the O'Briens know what they are dealing with, now the kids have to decide how they want to carry on knowing or not.
"This feels a little like truth or dare," she says.Truth: Find out whether she is going to get Huntington's disease or not.Dare: Live without knowing, wondering every other second whether she already has it.
This disease is ugly and heart breaking. An this book was so well done giving the many facets and variables emotions through the trial and tribulations of the O'Briens and how they stay in the fight with Huntington’s .
"If you end it now, you're avoiding a future that hasn't happened yet. You still have reasons to be here. I still want you to be here. We all do. We need you, Dad. Please. We need to learn how to live with this."
I love Lisa Genova's knack at getting to the heart and emotions of these diseases and giving them a face that people can better understand the depths of these diseases. Yes this book is fictional, but its so well researched it helps you recognize and get to know more about Huntington's and how it effects everyone involved.
4.5 Beautiful, Real and Raw Thumbs up!