Blanche’s Book Club: Hidden Valley Road.

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Are you on holiday break yet? Today is my first day off, and although I’m very grateful to be able to take time off, it’s never quite the same as when we got two weeks off of school. Am I right? That was always a BLAST.

But, I’m going to try and have a little fun while I can. Over the weekend, I finally watched some Christmas movies and baked some cookies. I also spent the majority of my day reading!

I know I’ve mentioned it here before, but I have a really bad habit of checking out library books and waiting until just a few days before they’re due to read them. I don’t know why I do it, but it usually means I have to read an entire book in a day or two.

That was the case on Saturday. I had the book, “Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of the American Family” by Robert Kolker, and it’s about 550 pages, due in two days.


But, I figured I would get comfortable, start reading, and see how far I got. And, I ended up reading about half of it in one sitting.

I took a break, ate, and then was determined to finish it before the end of the night. Let me just say: this book was WILD.

Here’s the scoop:

This is the story of a midcentury American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, and they became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

The Galvin’s twelve children spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family?

The Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself.

And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations.

With clarity and compassion, bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family’s unforgettable legacy of suffering, love, and hope.

I was originally drawn to this book because of the author. I read Kolker’s previous work, “Lost Girls” and it was riveting, heartbreaking, and so very well written.

But, even after I put this newer release on my TBR list, I kept seeing more and more good things about it: it was on Oprah’s list, and won some awards. It took months for my name to come up on the list at the library, and then obviously I waited until the last minute to read it, but… I read it and wow!

I have read a few other books that focus on mental illness and medical research, but within the first few pages of reading this book, I realized I know nothing about schizophrenia.

There was so much about this story that had me sitting there with my jaw hanging open, but Kolker paired it so nicely with the timeline of research behind it.

If you have any interest in learning about schizophrenia, I would definitely recommend this book!

What are you all reading this week?

For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Goodreads @thebitterlemon – where I share more of my book picks. Also, check out my printable bookmarks and Book Club Journal Pages in my Etsy Shop

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