Genetic counselor and novelist Janice Berliner unlocks the complicated world of human genetics in her second engaging novel exploring the impact of inherited disease. Her first novel, Brooke’s Promise, delves into Pompe Disease, a metabolic disorder impacting an infant girl and challenging her family’s understanding of their identity. Berliner’s second novel, In Good Conscience, tackles the devastating impact of Lynch Syndrome on the protagonist and his family, who must grapple with the impact it may have on their health as well.
In Good Conscience is a realistic story of love and loss, family relationships, and life and death. Aidan Sheridan has it all until his illness threatens to derail everything he’s worked so hard to achieve. The worst part isn’t the betrayal from his body, but from the people who should have been most fiercely protecting him. When oncology nurse Fiona Wood interferes with Aidan’s privacy, she does so for the greater goal of saving lives. The delicate bond she forms with Aidan ultimately redeems them both. Berliner deftly weaves in extensive information about cancer genetics, Lynch syndrome, and the delicate balance between privacy and the duty to warn relatives potentially at increased risk for cancer. She does this all without sacrificing storytelling.
This story raises awareness about the prevalent but underdiagnosed condition of Lynch syndrome. It tackles some of the most common concerns about cancer genetic testing, including survivor guilt, parental guilt, fear, and avoidance, in a very human way. In Good Conscience is essential reading for genetic counselors, patients, and providers alike. It challenges the reader’s sense of what is right, ethical, and just, exposing both the beauty and the ugly underbelly of sibling rivalry, relationships, love and forgiveness. Genetic counseling encounters are highlighted in the novel, during which Berliner explores the nuanced role genetic counselors play in the healthcare arena.
Berliner takes on the world of clinical genetics poignantly and effectively, as expected by her many years of clinical work before a plunge into academia. Her storytelling engages the reader, requiring them to think "what would I do?" in the situations she creates. The ethical, legal, medical, and familial issues she raises make this book a must-read page-turner. In Good Conscience provides a primer in genetics and ethics and is a true reflection of Berliner's expertise in both fields.
In Good Conscience by Janice L. Berliner
Publisher: Independently Published
Retail price: $14.99 paperback, $6.99 e-book
Disclosures: NSGC confirms and discloses that the author of In Good Conscience, Janice Berlinger, is a member of the Perspectives Editorial Committtee.