To an outsider, the Galvins appeared to be a picture-perfect 1960s American family: a father who was an Air Force Academy official, a mother with a love for baking, the eldest son a football star. But inside, as the longtime crime journalist and Lost Girls author Robert Kolker deftly depicts in his second nonfiction bestseller, the family was marred by violence and mental illness. Six of the 10 Galvin sons developed schizophrenia, turning their home into a place of turmoil that saw the two Galvin daughters suffer abuse. The book is also part medical mystery, as scientists examine whether the family’s genetics could unlock what still remains a deeply confusing disease. Yet somehow, despite all the Galvins’ suffering and the trauma they experience and inflict, in Kolker’s compassionate narrative their story still manages to offer glimmers of hope.
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