Hidden Valley RoadRobert Kolker

Hidden Valley Road

4 star

Total 2,971 Ratings

Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker Book Summary

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • ONE OF GQ's TOP 50 BOOKS OF LITERARY JOURNALISM IN THE 21st CENTURY • 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.

"Reads like a medical detective journey and sheds light on a topic so many of us face: mental illness." —Oprah Winfrey

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.

Hidden Valley Road (Robert Kolker) Book Reviews

Hard to put downIntriguing read! Very insightful!.Score: 4/5

Raw and honest view into mental illnessIncredibly raw and heart wrenching story of a family with too many children, too few coins and a whole lot of chaos mixed with severe mental illness that was just far bigger and an extremely tragic family life filled with so much loss and soul crushing travesties that would embed within them all their entire lives..Score: 5/5

Sad, insightful page turner!This was a compelling read. Develops like a good drama/suspense story; woven with lots of medical research. Reminded me a bit like Killers of the Flower Moon w/Far From the Tree (by Andrew Solomon) on the side. A great non fiction!!.Score: 5/5

Hidden Valley RoadAn amazing art of writing. The writing is so impressive and the descriptions are detailed. The author has brought to light the word schizophrenia in another light, not only those who suffer from the illness but those who live around them also live with it. The real life characters and their incredible story touched my soul. For three days I lived in their house on the hidden valley road. I couldn’t say bye to the characters, they will stay with me for quite some time..Score: 5/5

The painful reality of how this family deals with the stigma of schizophreniaKnowing that the one sister did everything for the boys and the other was too selfish to give of herself. Then she blamed it on the sister for caring enough to love what was broken even at her own expense..Score: 4/5

Weirdly, a page turnerAt some point, I couldn’t put this book down. I don’t know anyone with schizophrenia or much about the disease. But, the deep dive into the family dynamic was fascinating especially because it included sexual abuse in that family..Score: 5/5

Fascinating!An in depth portrait of a family and a disease of the mind. Could not put it down!.Score: 5/5

Bendicala dios si alcanza tu bendición está en tu manosAmén.Score: 5/5

Hidden Valley RoadSuch a heartbreaking and disturbing story. So sorry for all this family went through in trying different “cures” and understanding this disease .! Had a nephew with it. He was such a kind, sweet and talented young man but didn’t always want to take medication for the way it made him feel. Sadly he got hooked on beer and cigarettes and passed away at a young age. He is part of the reason I wanted to read this book. Thanks for this interesting and somewhat inspiring book..Score: 4/5

YlL @@ Mmd es Me Lolo De.Score: 1/5

Should have been much shorterThis book is catchy in the beginning, but it becomes very boring and repetitive after chapter 25 or so. Chapters from 25 to 45 could have been only five chapters. I really pushed myself to finish it. Overall, I think it’s mediocre. I was not deeply moved..Score: 3/5

Very fascinating storyI have never before read a book as intriguing as this one. The story is so overwhelming, sad, confusing, and fascinating, all at the same time. At times I felt the children’s pain, despair, and hopeless feelings. It is a very eye opener to what mental illness can do to a beautiful family whom at one time seemed to have the potential to have a better outcome..Score: 5/5

One of the best booksRead in one sitting. Fascinating. Rae Brown MD.Score: 5/5

The dad is not examinedThe book was well written and did a good job of pacing and balancing personal narratives with information about SZ. Though the author seemed to try to not blame Mimi, he ended up doing so perhaps out of his own unresolved or unexamined feelings about mothers and their responsibility to raise and rear children. There was no real effort to understand mimi’s own abuse, the cultural and social expectations of women in her generation and those very real and powerful experiences impacted her as a woman, wife, mother. None. Where is the empathy and understanding for her? There are bits and smatterings but not really nor deep enough. And what about the Dad? No real examination of the impact of his lack of parenting or his affairs on Mimi and her self. The dad gets off Scott free . The kids even put more blame and responsibility on Mimi then on their dad. He essentially left his wife with his affairs, his pursuit of his wants and wanted all these kids but didn’t really provide his wife as a present and helpful partner to help manage or parent them. The dad gets a pass by the author because the dad was a war hero and then had a stroke, like you can’t kick a man when he’s down. I get that Lyndsay/ Mary was the communicator, gate keeper and cooperative family member and the author seems to be respectful of her narrative but perhaps at the expense of asking more in-depth questions or exploration. He seems like he didn’t want to push back, challenge or risk getting cut off so he stayed in a safe zone. It’s still a good book but the lack of examination of the Dad’s role and the usual cultural bias of women as mothers was disappointing. The author had a real opportunity to give a deeper and more realistic and revealing context and perspective but failed to do so. I don’t blame Mimi ~ what help did she ever get or what acknowledgment did she ever get for the molestation she experienced. No wonder she beside the cultural taboos around divorce, she didn’t leave her philandering husband. What a heartache for her. And imagine the loneliness?.Score: 4/5

BadPlease put new books please I hate every book you put..Score: 2/5

Schizophrenia- a Family AffairThis was an intense read. I learned so much historical as well as current info. on this debilitating disease. Hearing the stories of the unaffected children was heartbreaking at times. This disease affects the entire family. I hope more breakthroughs will come soon in order to alleviate the pain and suffering as well as lost lives of those affected as well as those who suffer along side them; mothers, fathers and siblings..Score: 5/5

Ok what nowAnd now what are we going to do about this? The brothers don’t have a place to go. Nice book but how about a solution? Sorry for your pain Lindsay.Score: 4/5

Honest and heartbreakingThis book was hard to read at times, because the subject matter is difficult. I found myself absorbed by this families trials and triumphs. It definitely shows what being a family means. Well worth my time..Score: 4/5

Great readGreat writing, fascinating true story of the struggles families with mentally illness face. Really love the intersection of narrative with historical facts and research woven together in each chapter..Score: 5/5

MovingThis is not only a great story, but an amazing look at how schizophrenia has been perceived, studied and treated over the years. It has certainly added to my empathy for all those who suffer with mental illness. Thank you for this book..Score: 5/5

FantasticThoroughly compelling. I couldn’t stop reading..Score: 5/5

Very Enlightening‼️A great factual story about a family, disease, & current medical conditions concerning mental illnesses. The book was also an easy read for a layperson to follow & understand. More well-written books need to be written about mental illnesses to chip away at the old myths & “tabos” about this disease. I'm thankful for all involved with book especially the author..Score: 5/5

Mid read I have texted all of my friends to read immediatelyWhat a amazing piece of non-fiction that reads like fiction. A heartbreaking tale from everyone’s point of view..Score: 5/5

Informative, compelling and inspiring!My favorite uncle was diagnosed with schizophrenia which prompted a lifelong interest in the topic. This book was amazing much like the family it depicts. I’m so grateful for the researchers and to the author who made this book so readable..Score: 5/5

A Must ReadAn easy read to understand a complex issue.Score: 5/5

Good readDefinitely a good read and case study to some extent. Not an easy subject to write about..Score: 4/5

An incredible story that you can’t put downThis is one of the first full books I’ve started and completed in a long time, and I finished it in about a week. From the intricacies of the family dynamics to the mingling of scientific research with character testimony, Hidden Valley Road is a fantastic balance of learning something new and feeling right at home with a family that is so different from my own. The way the author mirrors the findings of the scientists to the timeline of the family’s health developments and deteriorations is so captivating, that I found myself following up with some of the other articles published by these scientists, as well. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in getting a better look at how the brain works, without the fear of being drowned in medical jargon..Score: 5/5

Hidden Valley RoadExcellent read. At times. I couldn’t put it down. Thank you for addressing mental illness in a manner that prevents shame and embarrassment and for humanizing those who possess it..Score: 5/5

MasterpieceThis book, unfortunately, is a story of heart-break, disappointments, hope and resilience, cover-to-cover. If you’re looking for those elements, well this is the book to read. Thank you Galvin family for sharing your story and vulnerability. Just like your DNA samples, this story will live on for generations..Score: 5/5

Hidden valley roadLittle boring, family was dysfunctional, sad to see so much mental illness in one family.Score: 3/5

Keeps you readingUtterly fascinating from start to finish.Score: 5/5

Just okayI chose this because of Oprah’s book club but it just wasn’t that interesting.Score: 4/5

InsightfulThis book gives a transparent meaning to mental illness. Beautifully written, touching, and such a worthwhile read. I’ve learned so much about what schizophrenia is and isn’t . A must read!.Score: 5/5

EnlighteningSo intriguing and well written! I loved it and was hooked from the first page..Score: 5/5

Great OBC selection!Excellent combination of nonfiction narrative storytelling and scientific information. Thoroughly compelling read that doubled as a great learning opportunity. Strong recommend to anyone interested in reading about mental illness, or honestly as an intro to anyone unfamiliar with the realities of mental illness..Score: 5/5

JPThis is a well written interesting, though tragic story. For mental health professionals it is a must read..Score: 4/5

[email protected]Such a good book, I’m glad I did the audiobook when it came to the science part of it. I actually saw some of my own family members in this book, which explains a lot in the past. Great read!!.Score: 5/5

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