Monday, January 19, 2015

Inside the O'Briens

I've shied away from reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova simply because of my own connection to Alzheimer's disease.  From time to time my interest piques a bit, but overall, I have steered clear of this one book. Yet I have devoured other books by Lisa Genova and absolutely love her writing.

Despite my own reticence to read Still Alice, the attention Genova was able to raise about Alzheimer's disease is a good thing.  Now with Inside the O'Briens I have heard that Genova is generating a great awareness for Huntington's disease, a little known genetic condition much like Alzheimer's disease.

Joseph O'Brien lives in Boston with his wife Rose and four children.  He's a policeman, a tough guy, good Catholic, hard worker.

Although Joe notices a few things that seem a little off - tripping and falling on some steps while taking the dog for a walk - he is easily able to write these things off as accidents.

However, after several little accidents, he eventually acquiesces to his wife's request to have a physical.  

This doctor's appointment changes Joe's life and the lives of his family members forever.  

He comes to the realization that the alcoholism he once believed killed his mother was not the true culprit. Instead, his mother had Huntington's disease, which her son inherited.

Huntington's disease is not something most people know much about. It is always fatal, and children of a parent with Huntington's have a fifty percent chance of getting it themselves. The onset occurs in a person's thirties or forties, and kills the victim slowly, much like Alzheimer's with it's gradual progression.

Joe is the father of four children, who must now determine if they would like to undergo genetic testing to see if Huntington's disease is in their future. And Joe and his wife must determine how they will plan for their future and what lies ahead.

Genova's book is another winner.  Despite the fact that I was busy with a few other books, once I started Inside the O'Briens, I was unable to stop reading.  I'm expecting to hear a lot about this one when it releases.


Kay said...

I read this one recently too. Wow. I knew virtually nothing about Huntington's Disease, other than that it existed. Like the condition in LEFT NEGLECTED, which I also did not know about at all, I was totally absorbed. I know that the conditions that Lisa Genova writes about are heartbreaking and so very tragic. However, I am so glad that she is able to put a face on these diseases. It's sad, but I think it helps.

As to STILL ALICE, you and I have talked about Alzheimer's and the way that disease has affected both of our families. Read it if you feel like and don't worry if you can't. It took me a while to want to read it. And it was still very hard. I've been happy I could suggest it to others who are dealing with Alzheimer's and other dementia issues and I'm sure you do the same. Take care, Tina.

Peaceful Reader said...

This one sounds very interesting. I loved Still Alice and look forward to seeing the movie!

I wondered if your girls had school today. I hope you enjoyed the day.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Back in a earlier career I had responsibility at a rehab facility for head injury and Huntington's patients. It it a horrible, horrible disease to see how the individuals deteriorate.