Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'BriensFrustrating, heartbreaking, and eye opening, Lisa Genova brings us Inside the O’Briens, a story about the impact of Huntington’s disease. Genova, the author of the award-winning novel Still Alice, has an incredible talent in her ability to personalize terrible illnesses and create stories that strike a chord with readers.

The O’Brien’s, an Irish Catholic family, are from Boston, Massachusetts. Joe O’Brien, father of the family, is a tough cop with a knack for swearing who learns that Huntington’s disease (HD) is the cause behind his jerky movements and mood swings. HD is a lethal neurodegenerative disease without a cure and is passed down genetically, meaning that Joe’s children each have a 50% chance of testing positive as well.

The story is told from two perspectives, from Joe and from one of his daughters, Katie. Through Joe’s eyes we see the devastation of the disease and the terrible guilt he feels for possibly passing it down to his children. Katie, Joe’s youngest daughter, struggles with the decision of whether to take a test to determine her HD status. That decision weighs very heavily on her and causes her to put her life on pause because she feels unable to move forward. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Katie:

“Everything she’s ever done has been in preparation for her real life, and she’s itching to get started.”

I admire Lisa Genova for her incredible storytelling abilities and for raising awareness for a destructive disease. An informative, engaging, and heart wrenching book, I absolutely recommend Inside the O’Briens!

The Forgotten Room by Beatriz Williams, Karen White & Lauren Willig

The Forgotten RoomThe Forgotten Room is a multigenerational story of three women spanning the decades between the 1890’s and 1940’s in New York City. To make the book even more special, it’s written by three wonderful authors, Beatriz Williams, Karen White, and Lauren Willig. It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of Beatriz Williams’ work so I immediately jumped at the chance to read and review The Forgotten Room.

The story begins in the 1940’s when the wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought into the hospital where Dr. Kate Schuyler works. Kate is unable to deny the strong connection she feels with Cooper and is shocked to find a small painting in his duffle bag that looks exactly like her. While trying to understand her connection with this new mysterious man, Kate unearths the mystery of three generations of women in her family. Kate discovers the story of her grandmother Olive, a woman who served as a maid in the very mansion-converted-hospital where Kate now works. Through her search, Kate also learns much more about her mother and the forces that brought her parents together.

Despite the fact that the story was written by three people, the scenes flowed together smoothly. It took me a bit of time to keep the characters straight due to the similarities between the determined heroines and their love interests, but in the end all of the loose ends were brought together.

This is a story of fate. A story of love lost and love found. I was completely absorbed by The Forgotten Room and definitely recommend it!

I received a copy of The Forgotten Room from the Berkley New American Library Group in exchange for an honest review.