Inside the O'Briens

A Novel

Inside the O'Briens

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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.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Inside the O’Briens includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Lisa Genova. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

 

Introduction

As a police officer from an Irish Catholic neighborhood in Boston, Joe O’Brien has always prided himself on his self-control. And with four adult kids still living under his roof, he needs it. There’s JJ, the upstanding fireman hoping to start his own family; Patrick, the rowdy bartender; Meghan, the accomplished but uptight ballet dancer; and Katie, the restless yoga instructor just trying to get them all to take her seriously. Joe loves being their rock, but when he begins to experience bouts of disorganized thinking, temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements, his fiercely protective wife, Rosie, drags him to a neurologist. There, they are handed a diagnosis that will change their family forever: Huntington’s disease.

Each of the O’Brien children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting this lethal neurodegenerative disease. A simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. As Katie observes the devastating symptoms in her once invincible father escala see more

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About the Author

Lisa Genova
credit to Greg Mentzer

Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova is the New York Times bestselling author of Inside the O'Briens, Love Anthony, Left Neglected, and Still Alice. Her first novel, Still Alice, has been adapted into a film starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, and Kristen Stewart. Lisa graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in biopsychology and holds a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University. She travels worldwide speaking about Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and autism. She has appeared on Dr. Oz, The Diane Rehm Show, CNN, Chronicle, Fox News, and Canada AM and is featured in the Emmy Award–winning documentary film To Not Fade Away. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.

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