AUDIOBOOK & BOOK REVIEW: Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker #BookReview @oprahsbookclub


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Publisher: Doubleday / Penguin Random House Audio

Release Date: April 07, 2020

Genre: Nonfiction / Science / Biography


Goodreads Blurb:

The heartrending story of a midcentury American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don’s work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins–aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony–and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. 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?
What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that 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.

My Thoughts:

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker is a stunning work of nonfiction about the Galvin family that lived/lives in Colorado. I live in Colorado myself and didn’t know they existed, and it was interesting to hear about places I am familiar with as well as those I’m not.

If you’ve ever wondered how mental illness, or specifically schizophrenia, effects a family then this book will enlighten you. I can’t even imagine all the time it took to research this family and talk to everyone, and it is such a well thought out book. I love investigative journalism and I found Hidden Valley Road to be very compelling and detailed, both about the Galvin family history and schizophrenia.

Hidden Valley Road is an Oprah’s Book Club pick and I can definitely understand why. I listened to the audio and I loved it, but I also bought the book and I’m glad I did. It has some pictures and a family tree for the Galvin’s which was very helpful since there were 12 kids. I highly recommend the audio, but I would also advise having the book on hand as well if possible. I think listening to it was easier than if I would have tried to read it just because of how detailed it is and the science parts. I find it easier to listen to these types of books as opposed to reading the physical book.

Hidden Valley Road was very moving and powerful, and I’m so glad I had the chance to read it. It was rather mind blowing as well, and I had to keep reminding myself that it is nonfiction. It is going to be really emotional for a lot of people and although I didn’t cry during it, I could see how some readers would. If after reading the synopsis you are even the slightest bit interested in Hidden Valley Road I would definitely recommend giving it a try.

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

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