History - Medical - Nonfiction - Science

Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

Check out if you like medical intrigue and tough family dynamics.

This is the story of the Galvins. A family that consists of twelve children; half of them diagnosed with schizophrenia.

I picked it up because mental illness is a serious disease and because the human brain is fascinating. Robert Kolker balances the Galvin’s personal story with what the science of psychology was doing from the early 1900s through 2018. The result is a medical detective story: Scientists trying to figure out what causes schizophrenia and how to treat or prevent it, as well as still trying to define exactly what it is. All while you follow the Galvin families slow decent into the disease circa 1960s-ish.

A family of twelve kids plus two parents is a long list of characters to follow, (not to mention the doctors and researchers) but the style of the book helps the reader out by maintaining an ordered list at the top of each family oriented chapter. And when jumping through time it is kept clear what year it is so that the reader can follow the research and theories through the decades.

If you follow celebrity book clubs this title is an Oprah’s Book Club pick from back in April, and I must say: Good pick Oprah! Highly recommended.