cover image Inside the O'Briens

Inside the O'Briens

Lisa Genova. S&S/Gallery, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4767-1777-7

Neuroscientist and novelist Genova (Still Alice) creates another poignant portrayal of those affected by neurological disorders. Joe O%E2%80%99Brien, a third-generation Irish American and longtime Boston cop, begins experiencing violent rages, sudden falls, and difficulties keeping still. Colleagues think he%E2%80%99s drinking, but Joe denies any problem until his wife, Rosie, insists he see a doctor. Tests reveal Huntington%E2%80%99s Disease, an incurable genetic disorder causing slow degeneration and death. Even worse, Joe and Rosie%E2%80%99s four children each have a 50-50 chance of having Huntington%E2%80%99s themselves. Will ballet dancer Megan, rebellious Patrick, or married firefighter JJ have, and pass along, the gene? How can the youngest sibling, 21-year-old Katie, balance her family%E2%80%99s needs%E2%80%94and her own chance of illness%E2%80%94with her fledgling attempts to craft an adult life beyond the shelter of the O%E2%80%99Briens%E2%80%99 close circle? Does the news require Joe to reinterpret his own mother%E2%80%99s troubled life and death? Narrated through Joe and Katie%E2%80%99s contrasting viewpoints, the novel effectively dramatizes the challenge of an illness that affects several generations simultaneously and demands searing emotional, logistical, and financial choices. Genova%E2%80%99s book will move readers as well as demystify a condition sometimes called %E2%80%9Cthe cruelest disease known to man.%E2%80%9D (Apr.)