Inside the O'Briens: A Novel by Lisa GenovaInside the O'Briens: A Novel by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'Briens: A Novel

byLisa Genova

Hardcover | June 28, 2016

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A New York Times bestseller ▪ A Library Journal Best Books of 2015 Pick ▪ A St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Books of 2015 Pick ▪A GoodReads Top Ten Fiction Book of 2015 ▪ A People Magazine Great Read

From New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a “heartbreaking…very human novel” (Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves) that does for Huntington’s disease what her debut novel Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.

Joe O’Brien is a forty-three-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, and each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease. 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. 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” (San Francisco Chronicle), Lisa Genova has once again delivered a novel as powerful and unforgettable as the human insights at its core.
Lisa Genova is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Love Anthony, Left Neglected, and Still Alice, which has been adapted into a film starring Julianne Moore.
Title:Inside the O'Briens: A NovelFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:352 pages, 8.38 × 5.5 × 1.1 inShipping dimensions:8.38 × 5.5 × 1.1 inPublished:June 28, 2016Publisher:Gallery BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:147671777X

ISBN - 13:9781476717777


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just Good I thought this book was a good read. The first half of the book was extremely slow.. very real look at how someone diagnosed with a debilitating disease would affect someone and their family. The novel was quite depressing at times given the topic but also very inspiring.
Date published: 2016-11-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointed I see my review is not as worthy of praise as the others so far - did not enjoy this book as much as Lisa Genova's other 3 - can't pinpoint why really, shed lots of tears, but not so much for the story itself but the insidious disease that is Huntington's. Yes the book is very informative of HD, so it must have been the characters themselves that left me feeling unsatisfied. I waited so long for this 4th book too :( I loved her 1st three books so much ....... I would recommend this book to anyone who was a fan though, as we all take away different things from a book.
Date published: 2015-09-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from medically informative Having read Still Alice and Left Neglected, I found the O'Briens to be disappointing. Good portrayal of a very brutal disease, but the characters seemed cliche and didn't really pull me in. The ending was unexpected and frustrating. Not one of L Genova's novels I'd recommend to a friend, having really enjoyed the other two mentioned. I had to push myself to finish this one, which is rare.
Date published: 2015-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inside the O'Briens Lisa Genova's books never disappoint. Inside the O'Briens surpassed my expectations. I eagerly await her next novel.
Date published: 2015-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A story that will break your heart, yet steadfast in hope and acceptance. The O'Brien family in Boston, two years after the Boston Marathon bombing. Joe O'Brien knows what death looks like, he has seen it with friends and foe, he is one of the Boston Police, as his father and grandfather were before him. But now he is about to see what life looks like, in the most unexpected way from a personal perspective. The father of upcoming adult children, he of course speculates on the futures they will have. Joe barely remembers his mother. She was ill when he was still a child, hearing rumors about her, "Drank herself to death" was most prevelant. But he wasn't sure. What he remembered most in his visits was that she was not much more than a skeleton, tied into a chair and force-fed. But lurking in that shell was a love for her boy, and a woman with a death sentence pre-ordained. What is inside the O'Briens? Subtle at first, Joe doesn't even notice random quirks. Not until his body starts doing things that he doesn't intend to do, such as go left and promptly goes right. Not much favored upon by the hierarchy of the Police Dept. He can't keep still, his feet and eyes are constantly moving, but he is still unaware. Soon his limbs take on a life of their own, swinging out suddenly, occasionally accidentally hitting someone. Eventually he is willing to go to a for movement disorders. The diagnosis return is slow and his mind begins to drift to his mother dying in the hospital. Genetic testing comes back with the ill-fated genetic mutation everyone was afraid to comtemplate...Huntington's Disease (HD). This is a nightmare that will not go away. Ever. Do his adult children already have it coded into their genes? Remembering his mother, he now realizes that she lived and died with it. There is no treatment, no cure. It doesn't present itself until around the childbearing age of your children. Exactly according to the plan that Joe did not set for himself. His oldest son is married and desperately tryig for a baby; They just announced that they were finally pregnant. His oldest daughter is a ballerina with a good company, the second daughter is in the early throes of love, and ready to embrace the world. His youngest son is showing signs already of juvenile HD which will put him dying much younger than usual. There is no long life with HD. Yes, this book gives probably the best look at how one family handled the worst, and what worse was still to come. Lisa Genova certainly is aware and tells her story with great passion, research, vulnerability, yet hope for a future, distant or not. We never know what we are capable of in our lives. Will we become stronger, fight the big pharmaceuticals for not giving time and money toward research on these types of orphan, rare, nor hidden diseases? Or will we just give up (as unfortunately many do) when they learn their fate. This book takes of 4 generations of a perfectly healthy family until suddenly the hidden monster surfaced leaving at least 3 of Joe's adult children, and the possibility that 1 of his grandchildren will be tested positive when he is old enough to be tested. Novel or not, this is a comprehensive look at the real disease. A personal postscript to Lisa Genova: One reason I'm personally impacted with this book...We had a friend once. People seeing her walk the streets of town all had the same idea: Drunk. She was a lovely lady and enjoyed what she could. Gone for several years now, we still think of her strong will to live to the best of her ability. Thank you so much Lisa, for this heartfelt book, but even more to show with strength of character we can choose to live with, as close to our own outcome as is medically possible. Your writing is consistently inspiring and bringing some much-needed awareness to a disease unknown to so many.
Date published: 2015-07-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from informative writing as usual. This was my least favourite of the Genova books, Loved the others but found this one a little tedious in parts but still a good read. I like that the reader becomes so well educated through her books with dfferent diseases and traumas and this certainly was an insight into a disease I knew little about.
Date published: 2015-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting, tension-filled,and a surprise ending The book was typical Lisa Genova in that it identifies and describes the tension that comes from a family beset by a serious medical condition. Not as tightly plotted as her first novel, but still a good read.
Date published: 2015-07-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inside the obrians Very good a page turner,also very informitve....a fine read, ..... outstanding read...... You wont put it down...
Date published: 2015-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect Still Alice has long been my favourite book. Not any more - it has been surpassed by Inside the O'Briens! Same author, same amazing writing style but there was just something more about this book. The characters are honest. They react in ways that feel right. I had heard of Huntington's before but had no real understanding of the hell this disease releases on its victims. The best part of this book, for me, was the ending - it was perfect. Thank you, Lisa Genova, for another winner.
Date published: 2015-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another page turner by this author Very informative and brilliantly written on understanding the subject and the family. I couldn't put it down once I started reading it.
Date published: 2015-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! It was shocking to learn so much about HD but what an amazing book. It was heart breaking to read how such a close, loving family was being torn apart by this awful disease. But their love and strength for each other was inspiring.
Date published: 2015-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read Fantastic and enlightening. Can't wait for the next one from Lisa Genova. Always a fantastic read!!!
Date published: 2015-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from True to life This book was so well-written, and tells every North American HD family's story in great detail. At times humorous, hopeful, and absolutely heart-wrenching. Huntington's is one of the worst diseases. I should know - it's effected 4 generations of my family. There were moments where I had to set this book down for a while because it is so real to how it really is for a family that has this disease. I laughed, I cried the ugly cry, and I cheered the O'Brien's on. I loved the ending too! Please, if you're the donating kind, Make the Huntington's society the charity you choose this year.... from someone who is so hopeful for a cure!
Date published: 2015-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from another great read from Genova Lisa Genova simply can't write a bad book. Her latest, Inside the O'Briens is another absolutely fantastic read. Genova is a neuroscientist. Each of her novels has brain function or brain injury as a starting point. (Still Alice has just been made into a movie) Forty-four year old Joe O'Brien has been a cop in Charleston, Massachusetts for twenty four years. He, his wife Rosie and his four adult children all live in the brownstone that Joe grew up in. When he starts having temper outbursts, a few muscle spasms and momentary mental lapses, he writes if off to age and fatigue. But....they get worse. Rosie and the kids are noticing more and it's happening at work - a dangerous situation. When Rosie finally gets Joe to a doctor, they are stunned to hear Joe's diagnosis - Huntington's Disease - a neurological condition that is fatal. And it's genetic - his children have a 50/50 chance of also having the disease. Wow. Genova takes us inside this tight knit family through Joe and his daughter Katie's eyes. The uncertainty, the anger, the denial, the aftermath, the hope, the dreams and above all the love of this family for each other. I know these are characters in a book, but I honesty felt like Genova was actually writing about a real family. The interactions, the dialogue and the situations had me feeling like I was sitting at the table with them, having Sunday dinner. I had previously heard of Huntington's Disease, but learned so very much about it from Inside the O'Briens, from both a medical, societal and personal perspective. Yes, the book has the disease as a basis, but it is the family of O'Briens that stayed with me after I turned the last page. Poignant, heartwarming, heartbreaking and oh so very, very good
Date published: 2015-05-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Captivating and thought provoking Lisa Genova's lastest book Inside the O'Briens, captures a thumbprint of lives affected by Huntington's Disease, shown through the eyes of Joe O'Brien a proud Irish, Boston Cop his life is dramatically changed as Huntington's disease begins to affect his life, not only on his job and marriage; but knowing that this disease can be passed on to his children. And how to live and cope with this disease is shown in Lisa's Genova's impeccable novel Inside the O'Brien's. When I read a Lisa Genova novel, I am taken into how the people who are dealing with any type of illness how they must feel, and how it affects not only them but their family. I struggled with Joe as he eventually was showing his kids how to handle Huntington Disease. This novel will not disappoint in providing information yes, about a very little known disease that does affect thousands, but how to show empathy and compassion for those devastated by this little known disease. Lisa Genova gives a voice and a face to thousands that are struggling and for that I applaud her ability in writing with compassion and dignity.
Date published: 2015-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Does not disappoint! I have read all of Lisa Genova's previous novels so I jumped at the chance to read this latest book. It certainly did not disappoint! As usual the perfect balance of science and human nature. It was a great read all the way to the end - I was even disappointed once it was over. Looking forward to the next novel!
Date published: 2015-04-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Sadly, Lisa Genova is dialing in I loved Still Alice and Left Neglected but Ms, Genova's last two books have left me neglected. Life with the O'Brian's provides lots of information about Huntington's disease and how it affects this particular family. However, the amount of detail that the author felt she needed to tell her readers really got in the way of the story.
Date published: 2015-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AnotherGenova triumph She takes a horrible life-changing situation and deals with it authentically, and sympathetically. A must read! I couldn't put it down. Lisa Genova is one of my favourite authors.
Date published: 2015-04-09

Read from the Book

Inside the O'Briens CHAPTER 1 Damn woman is always moving his things. He can’t kick off his boots in the living room or set his sunglasses down on the coffee table without her relocating them to “where they belong.” Who made her God in this house? If he wants to leave a stinking pile of his own shit right in the middle of the kitchen table, then that’s where it should stay until he moves it. Where the fuck is my gun? “Rosie!” Joe hollers from the bedroom. He looks at the time: 7:05 a.m. He’s going to be late for roll call if he doesn’t get the hell out of here pronto, but he can’t go anywhere without his gun. Think. It’s so hard to think lately when he’s in a hurry. Plus it’s a thousand degrees hotter than hell in here. It’s been sweltering for June, in the high eighties all week, and barely cools down at night. Terrible sleeping weather. The air in the house is a thick swamp, today’s heat and humidity already elbowing in on what was trapped inside yesterday. The windows are open, but that doesn’t help a lick. His white Hanes T-shirt is sticking to his back beneath his vest, pissing him off. He just showered and could already use another. Think. He took a shower and got dressed—pants, T-shirt, Kevlar vest, socks, boots, gun belt. Then he took his gun out of the safe, released the trigger lock, and then what? He looks down at his right hip. It’s not there. He can feel the missing weight of it without even looking. He’s got his magazine pouch, handcuffs, Mace, radio, and service baton, but no gun. It’s not in the safe, not on his dresser, not in the top drawer of his dresser, not on the unmade bed. He looks over at Rosie’s bureau. Nothing but the Virgin Mary centered on an ivory doily. She sure ain’t going to help him. St. Anthony, where the fuck is it? He’s tired. He worked traffic detail last night over at the Garden. Friggin’ Justin Timberlake concert got out late. So he’s tired. So what? He’s been tired for years. He can’t imagine being so tired that he would be careless enough to misplace his loaded gun. A lot of guys with as many years on the force as Joe grow complacent about their service weapon, but he never has. He stomps down the hall, passes the two other bedrooms, and pokes his head into their only bathroom. Nothing. He storms into the kitchen with his hands on his hips, the heel of his right hand searching for the top of his gun out of habit. His four not-yet-showered, bed-headed, sleepy teenagers are up and seated around the tiny kitchen table for breakfast—plates of undercooked bacon, runny scrambled eggs, and burnt white toast. The usual. Joe scans the room and spots his gun, his loaded gun, on the mustard-yellow Formica counter next to the sink. “Mornin’, Dad,” offers Katie, his youngest, smiling but shy about it, sensing that something is off. He ignores Katie. He picks up his Glock, secures it in its holster, and then aims the crosshairs of his wrath at Rosie. “Whaddaya doin’ with my gun there?” “What are you talking about?” says Rosie, who is standing by the stove in a pink tank top and no bra, shorts, and bare feet. “You’re always movin’ my shit around,” says Joe. “I never touch your gun,” says Rosie, standing up to him. Rosie is petite at five feet nothing and a hundred pounds soaking wet. Joe’s no giant either. He’s five feet nine with his patrol boots on, but everyone thinks of him as being taller than he is, probably because he’s barrel-chested and has muscular arms and a deep, husky voice. At thirty-six, he’s got a bit of a gut, but not bad for his age or considering how much of his life he spends sitting in a cruiser. He’s normally playful and easygoing, a pussycat really, but even when he’s smiling and there’s that twinkle in his blue eyes, everyone knows he’s old-school tough. No one messes with Joe. No one but Rosie. She’s right. She never touches his gun. Even after all these years of his being on the force, she’s never grown comfortable with having a firearm in the house, even though it’s always in the safe or in his top dresser drawer, where it’s trigger-locked, or on his right hip. Until today. “Then how the fuck did it get there?” he asks, pointing to the space next to the sink. “Watch your mouth,” she says. He looks over at his four kids, who have all stopped eating to witness the show. He narrows in on Patrick. God love him, but he’s sixteen going on stupid. This would be just the kind of knucklehead move he would pull, even after all the lectures these kids have endured about the gun. “So which one of you did this?” They all stare and say nothing. The Charlestown code of silence, eh? “Who picked up my gun and left it by the sink?” he demands, his voice booming. Silence will not be an option. “Wasn’t me, Dad,” says Meghan. “Me either,” says Katie. “Not me,” says JJ. “I didn’t do it,” says Patrick. What every criminal he’s ever arrested says. Everyone’s a fuckin’ saint. They all look up at him, blinking and waiting. Patrick shoves a rubbery slice of bacon into his mouth and chews. “Have some breakfast before you go, Joe,” says Rosie. He’s too late to have breakfast. He’s too late because he’s been looking for his goddamn gun that someone took and then left on the kitchen counter. He’s late and feeling out of control, and he’s hot, too hot. The air in this cramped room is too soupy to breathe, and it feels as if the heat from the stove and six bodies and the weather is stoking something already threatening to boil over inside him. He’s going to be late for roll call, and Sergeant Rick McDonough, five years younger than Joe, is going to have a word with him again or maybe even write him up. He can’t stomach the humiliating thought of it, and something inside him explodes. He grabs the cast-iron skillet on the stove by the handle and sidearms it across the room. It smashes a sizable hole in the drywall not far from Katie’s head, then lands with a resounding BANG on the linoleum floor. Rusty brown bacon grease drips down the daisy-patterned wallpaper like blood oozing from a wound. The kids are wide-eyed and silent. Rosie says nothing and doesn’t move. Joe storms out of the kitchen, down the narrow hallway, and steps into the bathroom. His heart is racing, and his head is hot, too hot. He splashes cold water over his hair and face and wipes himself dry with a hand towel. He needs to leave now, right now, but something in his reflection snags him and won’t let go. His eyes. His pupils are dilated, black and wide with adrenaline, like shark eyes, but that’s not it. It’s the expression in his eyes that has him arrested. Wild, unfocused, full of rage. His mother. It’s the same unbalanced gaze that used to terrify him as a young boy. He’s looking in the mirror, late for roll call, glued to the wretched eyes of his mother, who used to stare at him just like this when she could do nothing else but lie in her bed in the psych ward at the state hospital, mute, emaciated, and possessed, waiting to die. The devil in his mother’s eyes, dead for twenty-five years, is now staring at him in the bathroom mirror.

Editorial Reviews

"Lisa Genova’s subtle, finely tuned prose gains momentum until you don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or give thanks. Like all of her work, Inside the O’Briens is brimming with candor, pathos, and deeply human characters. I didn't want the book to end!"