Skip to content »

Fixed on Fiction

Inside the O'Briens

In February, Fixed on Fiction met to discuss Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova-

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. 

-Summary courtesy of Goodreads.

Here are some of the initial comments readers made while discussing their reaction to this month’s title:

  • Thumbs up. I loved the first half although I did skim the final third.
  • Thumbs up. I like that this novel made you think about how you would cope if your family found themselves in a similar situation.
  • Thumbs up. I definitely wanted to keep reading…a page turner.
  • Thumbs up. Although I would have appreciated if we knew what Katie’s test results were. It would have been interesting to see how she would cope either way.
  • Thumbs up. But this was depressing for me. I had an especially hard time when they had to put Yaz down.
  • So-So. I was disappointed that she only developed two characters. The family was too stereotypical. I do understand that she wanted to put a human face to this disease and I give her props for that.
  • Thumbs up. I knew nothing about Huntington’s and I found this very insightful.
  • Thumbs down. Not enough character development and I thought it was very convenient that he had adult children when diagnosed. I did appreciate learning more about the disease.
  • Thumbs up. I love the themes of Genova’s writing, she brings diseases to light. I learned so much and I found it very realistic.
  • Thumbs up. I really liked that we didn’t know Katie’s outcome at the end.
  • So-so. It read like an extra-long pamphlet on Huntington’s. But Genova isn’t a bad writer and I found the scenes with Katie and Megan to be very touching.

These are just a few of the comments made during our meeting. Please feel free to share additional thoughts on Inside the O’Briens below.  

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

777 Front Street Lisle, IL 60532 | Phone: 630-971-1675 | Fax: 630-971-1701 | Hours: M-F 9:30am-9:00pm, SAT 9:30am-5:00pm, SUN 1:00pm-5:00pm