Friday, March 20, 2015

Just Jennifer

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

Boston police officer Joe O’Brien is pretty set at 44.  He knows he’ll never be rich, but is comfortable with his life and his wife Rose and their four children.  When Joe starts forgetting things, falling down and showing unusual displays of anger, Rosie insists on an examination, one that leads Joe to a neurologist and a devastating diagnosis of Huntington Disease, for which there is no cure, only the promise of a frustratingly slow death.  As devastating as this news is for Joe and Rosie, it is even more so when they realize that this disease is a genetic disorder and that each of their children has a 50% chance of carrying the gene that will one day be a diagnosis of Huntington’s for them as well.  As twenty-one year old Katie, the baby in the family, watches her older sister, a ballerina and her eldest brother, soon to be a first-time father, submit to the counselling and genetic testing, she grapples with whether she wants to know or not.  She has just become seriously involved with non-Irish, non-Catholic Felix Martin who wants her to move to Portland with him.  But how can Katie, who can’ t even bring herself to introduce Felix to her family, commit to a relationship knowing, or not knowing, her fate.  Though the story focuses mostly on Joe’s and Katie’s struggles, the effects this disease has on each member of the family is carefully rendered as the O’Brien’s close ranks, even as each adult begins his or her own life, to help cope, as a family with all they will have to endure.  

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