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Inside the O'Briens

Inside the O'Briens: A Novel - Lisa Genova

3.5 Once again, Genova takes a regular family, a family that could be yours or mine, and touchingly portrays this family confronted with extraordinary events. In this case the family is Irish Catholic, living in Boston, Joe is a police officer, he and his wife have four grown children. They have the usual problems, not enough time, a grown son still trying to find his way, testing their patience, one son married, and two daughters both somewhat settled in their careers. Life is good but hectic until  Joe starts exhibiting some strange symptoms.

Huntington is a horrible disease, and one that children have a 50/50 chance of inheriting. This novel worked for me because this family was so likable, so easy in which to relate. Having a disease, that is life taking does become your whole life, becomes an obsession. There is guilt about passing this on to your children, crisis in faith, all the other emotions, really I can just imagine how devastating this would be.

Yet, life does go on, there are decisions to make, the present to live and this is what these characters, each in their own way must do. Find their way forward, look to a future, uncertain or not. That Geneva can educate while telling a story is to her credit. My only small criticism is that at times I felt she was a little heavy handed with the repetition of Huntington symptoms, but this is something she feels passionate about, and in no way lessened my involvement in the story. I also liked the way the novel ends, not exactly happy but hopeful.

ARC from NetGalley.