Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family is a 2020 non-fiction book by Robert Kolker. The book is an account of the Galvin family of Colorado Springs, Colorado, a midcentury American family with twelve children (10 boys and 2 girls), six of whom were diagnosed with schizophrenia (notably all boys). The family became the subject of researchers investigating a genetic origin for schizophrenia.[3][4][5]

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family
Cover of first edition
AuthorRobert Kolker
Audio read bySean Pratt[1]
Cover artistAir Force photo, 1961[2]
John Fontana (design)[2]
Publication date
April 7, 2020
Publication placeUnited States
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback), e-book, audiobook
ISBN978-0-385-54376-7 (hardcover)
LC ClassRC514 .K648 2020

The book was selected for the revival of Oprah's Book Club.[6][7][8][9] It debuted at number one on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.[10] The book was also named one of "The 10 Best Books of 2020" by The New York Times Book Review and as one of the year's most critically acclaimed non-fiction books.[11]

Robert Kolker was originally approached by the two Galvin sisters, Margaret Galvin Johnson and Lindsay (née Mary) Galvin Rauch, to write about the family's struggle and ordeal; he used it as a backdrop to explore the medical research and understanding about mental illness. Kolker interviewed Mimi Galvin, the matriarch of the family, as part of his research. She shared the various theories and rumors that had spread about their family and how they all struggled to get answers about the condition.[12][8]

Plot edit

Hidden Valley Road is a true story about an American family with twelve children, 6 of whom are diagnosed with schizophrenia. The oldest child, Don Galvin, was born in 1945, and the youngest, Mary (who later changed her name to Lindsay) was born in 1965. By the mid 1970s, six of the ten boys were diagnosed with schizophrenia. The Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health, with their DNA samples and experiences forming the cornerstone of research for the disease in the mid-1900s. [13]

Reception edit

The book received critical acclaim.[14] Kirkus Reviews praised its "astounding depth and empathy" and Kolker's account of schizophrenia's history and the complicated atmosphere and relationships between members of the Galvin family.[15]

In a review for The New York Times, Sam Dolnick wrote, "Kolker tells their story with great compassion" and that the author "is a restrained and unshowy writer who is able to effectively set a mood".[16]

Similarly, in her review for The Washington Post, Karen Iris Tucker described Kolker's retelling of the Galvin family as " deeply compassionate and chilling" further noting that, "the book gives much space to how difficult the disease has been to diagnose and treat. Yet it ends in 2017, as a story of hope."[17]

Publishers Weekly called the book a "haunting and memorable" account of multi-generational mental illness and praised Kolker's "taut and often heartbreaking narrative."[18] Former president Barack Obama listed the book as one of his favorite books of 2020 on social media on December 17, 2020.[19]

References edit

  1. ^ "Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker". Penguin Random House Audio. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  2. ^ "Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker". Penguin Random House. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  3. ^ Miller, Laura (April 8, 2020). "Six Brothers With Schizophrenia Fascinated Researchers. A New Book Explores the Family's Trauma". Slate. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  4. ^ Garcia-Navarro, Lulu (April 5, 2020). "In 'Hidden Valley Road,' A Family's Journey Helps Shift The Science Of Mental Illness". Weekend Edition Sunday. NPR. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  5. ^ Italie, Hillel (April 7, 2020). "Winfrey chooses "Hidden Valley Road" for book club". Associated Press. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  6. ^ Rankin, Seija (April 7, 2020). "Author Robert Kolker takes us inside Hidden Valley Road, Oprah's latest book club pick". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Tuttle, Kate (April 7, 2020). "Schizophrenia devastated a family: Robert Kolker did their story justice". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  8. ^ Williams, Janice (April 7, 2020). "Oprah's Book Club Names Robert Kolker's 'Hidden Valley Road' the New Pick For April". Newsweek. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  9. ^ "Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction – Best Sellers". The New York Times Book Review. April 26, 2020. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  10. ^ "The 10 Best Books of 2020". The New York Times. 2020-11-23. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  11. ^ Rodrick, Stephen (2020-04-21). "Inside the Bestselling Medical Mystery 'Hidden Valley Road'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  12. ^ Dolnick, Sam (2020-04-03). "Good Looks Ran in the Family. So Did Schizophrenia". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-02-22.
  13. ^ "Book Marks reviews of Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker". Book Marks. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  14. ^ "Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker". Kirkus Reviews. December 15, 2019. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  15. ^ Dolnick, Sam (2020-04-03). "Good Looks Ran in the Family. So Did Schizophrenia". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  16. ^ Tucker, Karen Iris (April 9, 2020). "The turbulent lives of six brothers with schizophrenia". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  17. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker". Publishers Weekly. February 4, 2020. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  18. ^ Merry, Stephanie (17 December 2020). "Barack Obama took a break from promoting his own book to highlight 17 of the year's best". Washington Post. Retrieved 18 December 2020.