Publisher's Note:  

From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a powerful new novel that does for Huntington’s Disease what her debut Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-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. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. 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. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

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.

Inside the O'Briens: A Novel

by Lisa Genova

Review Date:

Recommended Age:

Overall Rating:

Profanity / Language Rating:

Violence / Gore Rating:

Sex / Nudity Rating:

Overall Review:  

When I saw that Lisa Genova had a new book coming out, I was so excited! I have read and adored all of her previous books, and I was so sure that I would like this one, too. I will admit I did have high expectations. I thought this book would pull me in as fast as Still Alice, and haunt me for days like all of her other books. Within the first few pages of Inside the O'Briens I could tell this book was different. It didn't have the same tone or pace. It wasn't exciting and unpredictable, even while dealing with a tough subject. No, this book was mundane. Dull. Boring?


I finished this book, but I didn't really want to. Maybe part of the problem I had with this book was that the protagonist is a middle-aged man. I couldn't relate to him at all. Or maybe it was because of all the language (there was a lot, so much that it pushed me to the point that I got slightly annoyed). Protagonist Joe O'Brien is a family man. He loves his wife and children and he loves his job as a police officer. I don't know why I couldn't love him or his story. I wanted to, oh, how I wanted to, but it just didn't happen.


I am fascinated by rare disease (and not so rare disease); ones that leave people paralyzed and helpless. This book portrays just that, but in such a way that I wasn't kept engaged very long. Perhaps there will be people out there that adore this book, but for me, this one didn't make the cut.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  7 religious exclamations; 3 mild obscenities; 15 religious profanities; 1 derogatory name; 51 scatological words; 13 anatomical terms; 70 F-Word derivatives.


Violence/Gore:  A character throws a pan in anger; a bank is mentioned to be robbed, a brief scene is described of the arrests made; crimes are referred to by a police officer; a man is mentioned to be abusive and beat his wife; a character is mentioned to be shot and wounded; a character is mentioned to jump from a balcony and break some bones; the Boston marathon bombing is mentioned is some brief detail, carnage is referred to; a boy is struck on the head and bleeds profusely; wildfires are said to destroy homes and kill people with no detail; a character is mentioned to be shot in the stomach by an armed man; suicide is contemplated by a character; a priest defiling a minor is referred to; a woman is mentioned to have strangled her sons in a bathtub; a bombing is referred to.


Sex/Nudity:  Adults kiss several times; abstinence is spoken of; sex is referred to several times; a man mentions undressing a woman with no detail; a nude, unmarried couple is mentioned to sleep together; a couple is mentioned to shower together; a young woman is mentioned to be pregnant before marriage; a priest defiling a minor is referred to.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Terminal illness, death, divorce, Boston Marathon bombing.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Overdosing on prescription drugs mentioned; adults drink alcohol; selling drugs is mentioned and implied; pot smoking is mentioned; adults smoke cigars; drug addiction is suspected.

Reviewed By Lydia
No image available