Reading Matters

Lisa Genova back with a novel on ill-fated Huntington’s disease

I can’t exactly ask you if you enjoyed Lisa Genova’s novel, “Still Alice,” and the subsequent award-winning film of the same name.

But most people I know were affected by it. And for good reason.

Alice could’ve been any one of us. Or our mothers. Or our sisters.

Now the woman who holds a PhD from Harvard in neuroscience has turned her attention and talents to Huntington’s disease, the lethal, genetic neurodegenerative disease with no effective treatment and no cure.

In the newly-released “Inside the O’Briens,” Genova takes on the family of Joe O’Brien, a devoted husband, father and Boston police officer. He’s only 43, but he begins to experience bouts of disorganized thinking, temper outbursts and, perhaps most telling, strange, involuntary movements.

The great thing about Genova is that she is not only a scientist, adept at writing about people with diseases. But she’s a true novelist, revealing

character, setting scenes, capturing the senses. Listen to the opening of Chapter Six.

The tasty smell of fried peppers and onions wafts over from the sausage cart on the corner, and Joe wants another sub. He’s not

particularly hungry, but he’s bored, and that tangy, sweet aroma is undeniably alluring. Intoxicating. He inhales, and his mouth

waters. He inhales, and every thought in his head becoems saturated in greasy onions. Women should forget about those fancy,

expensive perfumes that all smell like some old lady’s garden. They should do their wrists and necks with droppings from

Artie’s Famous Sausages. Men would be all over them.”