Linder, Joselin. The Family Gene: A Mission To Turn My Deadly Inheritance into a Hopeful Future. Ecco: HarperCollins. Mar. 2017. 272p. bibliog. ISBN 9780062378897. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062378927. SCI
Five of Linder’s (The Gamification Revolution) adult relatives died from a horrendous, medically baffling disease. Her family members have worked with researcher Christine Seidman of Harvard Medical School to find its cause—a unique genetic variant, inherited from either the author’s great- or great-great-grandmother. Even while knowing that this genomic legacy puts her (and any child she might conceive) at risk for a grisly death, the author views her future with measured optimism. She hopes that with contraception and reproductive technology, her generation can prevent any further transmission of the deadly gene. Copious amounts of body fluids pervade the accounts of sickness and futile attempts at treatment; this is not a book for the squeamish. And the author chooses to minimize discussion of the ethical aspects of genetic disease (e.g., whether to opt for abortion in cases of known genetic defects). VERDICT Even though Linder’s narrative is sometimes disjointed, genealogists and readers interested in popular medicine may find this book more relatable than Alice Wexler’s Mapping Fate.
Kapsambelis, Niki. The Inheritance: A Family on the Front Lines of the Battle Against Alzheimer’s Disease. S. & S. Mar. 2017. 352p. notes. index. ISBN 9781451697223. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451697339. SCI
Would you want to know if you were going to develop early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which would rob you of your memory and might kill you in middle age? This is the issue facing the DeMoe family of North Dakota. Journalist Kapsambelis tells the DeMoes’ story and that of Alzheimer’s research. The DeMoes are one of a few cohorts identified with a genetic mutation that results in a 100 percent chance of the disease in carriers and a 50 percent chance in their offspring. The author focuses on husband and wife Galen (Moe) and Gail DeMoe. Moe’s mother and two of his four siblings all died of the disease, and he and Gail had six children before it was known that the disease was genetically linked. At the same time, Kapsambelis follows the pioneers of Alzheimer’s research, who have carried on a tireless fight for attention and support and whose work is now promising. A science text that reads like a mystery and treats its subjects with humanity and sympathy, this volume should be of interest to everyone, as Alzheimer’s is now known to be a major cause of dementia in the elderly and because we are facing a potential epidemic as the baby boom generation ages. VERDICT An excellent, accessible addition for most public libraries. [Prepub Alert 9/19/16.]