Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
Book description~ In neuroscientist Genova’s second novel, a car crash gives a successful younger woman an obscure neurological syndrome called Left Neglect. Upwardly mobile Sarah and Bob Nickerson live in suburban Massachusetts with their three small children. Both work 60-hour weeks, though the economic downturn looms. When Sarah wakes up eight days after crashing her car on the way to work, the doctors inform her of her condition, which causes her brain to ignore the left side of everything, and she begins a long and uncertain recovery. Genova vividly describes Sarah’s fear and frustration about a recovery that may never come, turning her struggle into a lesson in forgiveness, acceptance, and adaptability; insights reveal themselves with extreme clarity, and small moments between Bob and Sarah illustrate his stalwart love, though readers may want a more thorough investigation of his growing role as caretaker, and as a character. More accessible than her somber first book, which dealt with early-onset Alzheimer’s, the central condition causes readers to wonder what brain disease she will think of next.
wow. Wow. WOW. Imagine for just a moment that you can’t feel your left side. Or left leg. Or left arm. Or left toes. Imagine that you can only read words on half the page. Pretty hard to imagine yes? What if you had 3 children under 10, a high-powered corporate job and a husband all relying on you? This is the reality for Sarah Nickerson, the main character, mother, wife and corporate guru, in Genova’s touching novel set in Boston, about redemption, living fully, and learning how to forgive. Sarah is going about her busy life, when a tragic (and sadly avoidable) accident happens. Sarah sustains a brain injury and is forced into a life of rehab hospitalization, the harsh realities of the health insurance game, and learning how to still be the matriarch to her large family.
It’s clear that author Genova is a neuroscientist yet she makes it so accessible to us lay readers; I felt like I was suddenly an expert in all matters of Left Brain Neglect! Genova’s writing style is articulate and gentle, yet forceful when need be. Left Neglected is perfectly paced and I have nothing but excellent things to say about Genova’s writing style. What I love about reading is that a week ago, I knew absolutely nothing about brain neglect, also known as unilateral neglect and hemispatial neglect, a real neurological syndrome occurring as a result of a stroke, hemorrhage,or traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately there is little research on the topic and as Sarah learns, she too, is navigating these uncharted waters in how to move past her disorder and still live a full life.
Sarah was quite distant with her mother, but when her mother moves in to help manage the family responsibilities of her three grandchildren, Sarah and her mother are given a second chance at the mother/daughter relationship they missed out on through Sarah’s childhood. Sarah’s mother wasn’t there for her as a child, but makes up for it tenfold through this novel.
I cannot recommend this book enough. I don’t want to give anything else away, but the highlight of the book for me was the creative and fun way Sarah learns to rehab both her mind, body, and soul. I laughed and I cried during some of her rehab scenes. Something utilitarian had a wonderful way of turning itself into Sarah’s new career and new beginning…
“I’m starting to wonder. What else is there? Maybe success can be something else, and maybe there’s another way to get there. Maybe there’s a different road for me with a more reasonable speed limit. Whether it’s because I can’t, I’m too afraid, something inside me has changed and wants something different, or a complete blend of all three, I can’t say, but I don’t want to back to that old life. My heart is leading me somewhere else. And I trust it. “
I’ve been itching to read this since the end of 2010, when I was given the opportunity to read and review this for Shelf Awareness, but I had too many books to get through and had to pass. I finally got around to it and I am SO happy I did. I also very much look forward to reading Genova’s debut novel, Still Alice, which chronicles the life of a woman with Alzheimer’s Disease.
10 down, 16 to go!
T minus 2 weeks til pool season!!!!