I have now read all of Lisa Genova's novels.
And I have loved every.single.one.
My absolute fave was this one pictured above which is also her latest. Yup....Still Alice has slipped to 2nd place. This one was just incredible from the opening line to the amazing ending. She is a a very gifted author and if you haven't discovered her books yet, I highly recommend that you do, if you are a reader!
Living in Charlestown (a neighborhood in Boston) all of his life makes him a townie. Joe O'Brien is married to Rosie, his high school sweetheart and they are good Irish Catholics. Joe is a Boston police officer who is well respected, been with the force for years, a very devoted husband and father to 4 children. JJ, his oldest, is married to Colleen and they are expecting their first baby.They have the flat above Joe and Rosie. JJ is a firefighter for the city of Boston. His son Patrick still lives at home and works in a local bar. Meghan, is 22 and is part of the corps de ballet for the Boston Ballet and shares the upper flat with the baby of the family, 21 year old Katie who is a yoga teacher and dating a guy named Felix. Felix is NOT Irish Catholic; in fact, he's Baptist, raised in Brooklyn and is considered a "toonie". A person who lives in Charlestown but wasn't raised there. Oh. And he is also black. Joe and Rosie do not yet know about Felix.
One day Joe has some movement issues. He is unbalanced, is often forgetful and unorganized in his reports at work. He also has begun to exhibit a very odd temper.....often very irritable, angry, and beginning to lash out physically and emotionally. He has moments of stumbling and even fell down while on the job. For a little while, he thinks it is because of the stress of being a Boston cop and the aging process. But he is only in his early 40's.
He agrees to go with Rosie to see a neurologist. And gets the diagnoses he does NOT suspect. He has Huntington's Disease. The cruelest disease known to mankind.
The disease is horrible. It is a genetic, neuro-degenerative disease with no effective treatment and no cure. Every one of Joe's children has a 50% chance of having the mutant gene. A simple blood test will determine their future.
JJ and Meghan get tested right away. And yes...they both will acquire HD when they are anywhere between 35-45. Sometimes symptoms begin earlier. Because JJ has the gene, his unborn child has a 50% chance of inheriting HD as well. Yet, he and Colleen choose to not abort the baby. They will take the chance.
Patrick does not want to know if he has it or not.
And Katie? She just can't decide. In fact, she has the chance to move away from Charlestown and open up her own yoga studio, which is something she has always wanted to do. Yet...she is undecided about that, too.
Will she move to Portland, Oregon with Felix? Will she decide to get the genetic test??
And what will happen with Joe and Rosie??
Read this incredibly moving story to find out.
Oh my goodness, I loved this. I was a bit busy all week otherwise I would have finished this book in 2 days!
It is a wrenching, funny, sad, hilarious, thought-provoking, memorable story.
I fell in love with each and every character and Genova's character descriptions are perfect. You feel like you know this family!
I love how Joe had to delve into this childhood AND come to terms with the disease to fully understand how his mother died.
I love how he struggles with finding some kind of legacy to pass on to his children and grandchild other than the Huntington's.
I love how the author brought out the love of family and how love is more important than fear and that to embrace love and live in the moment is all that matters.
Although I am not a fan of Zen philosophy, I did enjoy all the quotes on Katie's bedroom wall and they fit in perfectly with her own struggles of whether or not to get tested. I don't want to tell you the ending (or what she decides to do) as I don't want to be a spoiler.
The book did encourage me to look up some easy yoga exercises to add to my work-out routine and I love them!!
What was one of my favorite things was the description of Boston and Charlestown, Fenway, etc. Because my own children and husband (and I!!) love the city of Boston and have been there so many times, it was fun to read about our beloved city. And I could relate to the "townie" thing because that is how it is in the little central NY village I am from...AND how my husband's little village in Plymouth County MA is like.....you are a townie if you are born and raised there. But...like Katie, we wanted to move out. I totally understood her struggle to remain with family vs moving away. Again, I won't tell you what she decides.
It was very interesting to read about this horrible disease and the effect it has on not just the person dealing with it, but on how it impacts family members, friends, and co-workers. I appreciate the author for giving us, the readers, a glimpse into this issue and how we can monetarily help. (she gives a website at the end of how to donate to finding a cure).
There were MANY quotes from the book that jumped out at me but one of them is this:
"Lotus flowers blossom while rooted in mud, a reminder that beauty and grace can rise above something ugly." (Katie's thoughts about her reasoning for getting a lotus flower tattoo) pg.333, Inside the O'Briens, c. 2015
In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to some content and language)
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.