OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR
ONE OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR
PEOPLE'S #1 BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
ONE OF GQ's TOP 50 BOOKS OF LITERARY JOURNALISM IN THE 21st CENTURY
Named a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, TIME, Slate, Smithsonian, The New York Post, and Amazon
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Oprah calls this book club pick “an extraordinary scientific detective story and family saga.” Journalist Robert Kolker draws us into the jaw-dropping true story of the Galvin family—Mimi, Don, and their 12 children—to explore powerful themes like mental illness, our limited understanding of the human brain, trauma, resilience, and forgiveness. His astonishing book follows the Galvins from the late ’40s, when Don and Mimi are a young all-American couple with seemingly infinite promise, through the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, as six of their ten sons are eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, to the present, as the remaining family members come to terms with the shame, denial, secretiveness, and chaos caused by the stigma around this horrific disease of the brain. Kolker’s first book, Lost Girls, fell squarely into the true-crime camp, and his ability to build suspense and ferret out hidden truths is a large part of the reason that Hidden Valley Road is such a gripping listen. Sean Pratt’s cool, even-keeled narration walks us through this complex and compelling story, letting the interpersonal dramas speak for themselves. We were totally engrossed by Kolker’s quest to understand not just what the Galvins went through, but why, shining a light on issues that remain shrouded in darkness—and filling us with compassion and a sense of urgency about talking about mental illness openly and honestly.
I highly recommend this riveting true life detective story.
This detective story about one family’s journey through the story of six boys of their 12 children, becoming schizophrenic - and of the researchers who persistently and passionately followed the family to find causes of metal illness, is a groundbreaking book.
Mimi the mother, was a hero to open up her life and family’s life, to the world - during a time when the mother was blamed for schizophrenia- nature vs nurture is the question.
The identification of choline deficiency during pregnancy, as a causative factor In development of schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, and autism, was a direct outcome of this quest.
Only in 1998 was choline identified as an essential nutrient to be included in pregnancy nutrients.
I am very grateful to the author for this amazing book. And to the mother Mimi. And the researchers.
Now as a result, the direction of schizophrenia research points to the importance of an adequate placenta, during very early pregnancy, as a key factor in the future mental health of the child.
... a watershed book, from which future breakthroughs will spring...
I could not put it down.
Especially remarkable, was the effect on Mimi’s six normal children, who also heroically coped.
It is a book whose time has come.
A book for the ages.
Riveting True Story of One Family’s Journey of Mental Illness through the decades. Excellent Read!!
Highly recommend this book. The author’s years of extensive research & personal interviews with family members comes through beautifully and honestly; resembling an empathetic reporter determined to tell the real story from several vantage points. His talent for telling a true story to read like a riveting novel combined with crucial detail that bring each person to life kept me anxious to keep getting back to the book to see how it all unfolded. The fascinating, unbelievably tragic, yet at times also triumphant story of the Galvin family kept me wanting to know more. A sobering look at not only schizophrenia in general through the years, but the Mental Health industry as a whole (research & science, big pharma, controversial treatments, different schools of thought, genetics, nature vs. nurture, etc.) It leaves you with the prevailing question of our time: “Where do we go from here?” while shining a light on areas in need of necessary (and immediate) improvement and advancement: from societal stigmas of mental illness to classification, research, treatments, and the need for cohesive collaboration across all of these areas to finally understand and move toward a better way for early identification and treatment. This book could serve as a catalyst for much needed understanding with both the experts and the general population in what still remains a taboo illness for many; and I sincerely hope it will be just that.
Eye opening and great
I could not leave the book, it pulls you in and does not let you go.