Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova
Written by Ashley Kelmore, Posted in Reviews
I read and reviewed Still Alice late last year, so a few days back Goodreads notified me that Ms. Genova had a new novel coming out this month. Inside the O’Briens tells the story of the O’Brien family and how they deal with the patriarch’s diagnosis with Huntington’s Disease. The book is primarily told from patriarch Joe’s perspective, a forty-something police officer in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. He starts to develop symptoms and gets tested, not realizing that his mother had died of the same disease when he was young.
The rest of the book focuses not just on how Joe’s symptoms develop and the fact that he and his family have to deal with the fact that his life expectancy is only 10-20 more years, but also focuses on how his four children deal with deciding whether to get tested. It has some similarity to that plot point in Still Alice, but is handled in a slightly different way. Katie, the other point of view character in the book, is his youngest daughter, and the one whose journey we follow. She is very young (21) and a yoga instructor, trying to deal with everything that comes with deciding to know if in 15-25 years she’s going to start showing signs of Huntington’s Disease.
It is a very compelling book. I once again stayed up too late reading it, and even when I left my Kindle and another book I was reading at home (THE HORROR) I read it on my phone on my lunch break (praise the Kindle app). I’m not giving it five stars because, despite the hefty subject matter, it feels oddly light. It didn’t affect me nearly as much as Still Alice, and it left me thinking there could just be … more. Yeah, I’m not going to go down as a great wordsmith based on this review, but hopefully you know what I mean. It’s good, but for me, not as good as her previous work.