Book of the Week: The Family Gene – Joselin Linder

I love it when a bookseller steps in and sells my books better than I can. Molly Gillespie from Joseph Beth in Cincinnati grabbed a digital copy of this before the ARCs came out and sent in a pretty much perfect assessment. So, I’ll turn over the reviewing to her:

Joselin Linder and her family are part of a genetic puzzle. Though the same unnamed disorder has killed multiple generations of her family, the reason for its occurrence remains an enigma. In her memoir Linder recounts the first baffling days of her father’s mysterious illness, the frantic fight as doctors race to find a cause, and in the years that followed, the dawning realization that the condition had spread had spread to the next generation.

“When I say The Family Gene hits hard, I mean it with the highest praise. Linder doesn’t hold the punches when describing the devastating effects of living with a bodily unknown, but at the same time avoids the traps of melodrama. Her explanations on complex physiological functions are concise and accessible. As a woman who also has a genetic disease it was tremendously gratifying to know someone else shared my experience: stumped physicians, constant testing and the question of prenatal screening.

“The cumulative result is a story equally valuable to a veteran patient and readers who have never knew you could have a ‘genetic counselor.’ The Family Gene is one woman’s a tremendous narrative of how far genetic research has come over the last twenty years and the current lifesaving work being done for our future.”
— Molly Gillespie, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

Her opinion was subsequently reinforced by starred reviews in both PW and Booklist. Review coverage at on sale starts with People magazine.

 “Linder delivers a moving and deft account of her journey to unearth a diagnosis of the mysterious family gene that caused her father’s and six other relatives’ untimely deaths. In this fascinating journey, she seamlessly moves from instructing on complicated genomic science to revealing the relatable follies of her 20s, never shedding wit or humor…. With compassion and a keen eye, she digs into her family history, medical history, and contemporary genetic science. Lessons on DNA and the significance of X chromosomes in passing genes are woven into Linder’s intimate look at her ongoing struggle to stay alive. She expertly balances the serious and often tragic with an indefatigable charm and warmth. This book is a wonderful blend of reflections on coming of age, medicine, and what it means to live against all odds.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Linder not only knows how to tell a compelling story but also how to use numbers to good effect and how to spell out complicated concepts… Her brutal honesty contributes to the power of this thoroughly researched chronicle of the quest to conquer chromosomal abnormalities.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Linder’s narrative is a combination of a fascinating medical detective story and an absorbing, powerfully written family chronicle…. [She] successfully integrates cutting-edge genetic research into her personal quest.”
—  Kirkus Reviews

The Family Gene: A Mission to Turn My Deadly Inheritance into a Hopeful Future (9780062378897) by Joselin Linder. $28.99 hardcover. 3/14/17 on sale.

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