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Summary

12 children.

6 of them diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Science's greatest hope in understanding the disease.

One of Barack Obama's Favourite Books of 2020

TIME 100 Must-Read Books Of 2020 Pick

New York Times best seller

Selected as Oprah's Book Club Pick

For fans of Educated, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Three Identical Strangers.

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 12 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 10 Galvin boys, one after the other, 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 Institutes of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalisation, lobotomy and the schizophrenogenic mother, to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amidst 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.

 

©2020 Robert Kolker (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Hidden Valley Road contains everything: scientific intrigue, meticulous reporting, startling revelations and, most of all, a profound sense of humanity. It is that rare book that can be read again and again." (David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon)

"An extraordinary case study and tour de force of reporting." (Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind)

"This book tore my heart out. It is a revelation-about the history of mental health treatment, about trauma, foremost about family and a more-than-worthy follow-up to Robert Kolker's brilliant Lost Girls." (Megan Abbott, Edgar Award-winning author of Dare Me and Give Me Your Hand)

What listeners say about Hidden Valley Road

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Poignant, unbelievable and incredibly well written!

This is a true story, that one might find difficult to believe. Working as a mental health professional for over 40 years though, sadly, means that I know much of this to be true. Robert Kolkers writing is incredible, I could not stop listening. It is an amazing story, that begged to be written and the author has really done it justice. Thank you for rekindling my passion for the people and the work!!

3 people found this helpful

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Touching

I was really moved by this audible book. It sheds a light on the horrors of living with mental illness, especially at a time when it was so misunderstood.

3 people found this helpful

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eye opening

I enjoyed learning about the Galvin's family history and learning so much about mental illness. I loved the fact that there was alot of background information about how they were working on developing medication and other treatments for schizophrenic people. Being the 8th child out of nine I very much related to Lynsey and Margaret being the youngest member of a big family. that feeling of being lost never goes away.

2 people found this helpful

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A subject often avoided . The effect and strain of mental health on a family.

Enjoyed the book. Not my regular type of genre but it was very educative. It really shed more light on how biology can help determine ones destiny. A powerful book in the 21st century.

2 people found this helpful

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A gripping and emotional story! 5 stars!

Wow, wow, wow!! I absolutely flew through this book and could not put it down. It is at once a compelling story of a fascinating family, as well as a brilliantly researched insight into a deeply misunderstood mental health condition. It reads like a gripping detective novel, and I was so sad when it ended! Kolker writes with care and humanity and I felt like I’d really come to know the Galvin family by the end of the book. Fans of Bad Blood, Educated or East West Street will absolutely love this. Highly highly recommended!! Great narration too.

2 people found this helpful

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Absolutely amazing book!

Very good book. Strongly recommended anyone who is curious in science especially psychology and psychiatry.

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Impressiv and educational

I was sceptic at first and nearly returned it after the first 20 min but I kept going and ended up loving it!

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Brilliant for A Level Psy

Enjoyed this. Great overview for Schizophrenia and generally classification and diagnosis of mental illness.

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A must read

Hidden Valley Road is a must for anyone interested in mental illness and especially schizophrenia. It would also be interesting to people keen on real life family dramas. It offers a nice balance between the chapters on past (and ongoing) research and the chapters devoted to the day-to-day struggles of the Galvin family. The material is presented in a way anyone could understand, no matter their academic background. The book’s audio version is excellent: Sean Pratt did a great job reading the book, clearly and correctly. 5 stars.

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Brilliant story, excellent narration.

What a wonderful, tragic story.

Beautifully written, haunting to listen to.
Sean Pratt is my favourite Audible narrator and he really conveyed the love and pain within this family story.

1 person found this helpful