Monday, 27 February 2012

Left Neglected

Author: Lisa Genova
Pages: 352
Genre: Modern Fiction
Type: Paperback
Published by: Gallery Books
First Published: July 2011
First Line: "I think some small part of me knew I was living an unsustainable life."

My Synopsis: Sarah Nickerson is a highly successful business woman who has an overwhelmingly hectic life and not enough hours in each day to get everything done.  She has an important and stressful corporate job, she's the mother of three children, owns two homes and has an equally busy husband.  It's due to all of her responsibilities that Sarah has every minute of every day scheduled.

One day while driving to an appointment Sarah briefly takes her eyes off the rode to check her phone.  Unfortunately in that split second Sarah loses control of her car and wakes up in a hospital with a traumatic head injury.  Her doctor tells her that she is suffering from "Left Neglect" which means that her brain doesn't recognize or even acknowledge anything on Sarah's left -- be it her left hand, the left side of a page, the food on the left side of her plate or someone sitting on her left.  To Sarah's brain the 'left' no longer exists.  This leaves the very confident Sarah in a very vulnerable situation where she must begin the arduous task of (hopefully) reteaching her brain to acknowledge the left of everything.  In the process Sarah learns to slow her life down and finds out that her in her formerly hectic life she was missing out on some of the most valuable things of all.

My Thoughts: After reading Genova's first book "Still Alice" a few years ago and loving it (see my book review HERE) I was very excited to read Genova's most recent book.  While I liked "Left Neglected" I would say that it isn't nearly as compelling or riveting as "Still Alice".  Don't get me wrong, Genova brings a unique situation to her story but there were a few things that I didn't love.

First, I had a hard time liking Sarah.  Let's just say that I see she and I ever being friends.  When we first met Sarah she was very arrogant and seemed more focused on her job than her family which I had a hard time relating to. She was also very materialistic and gushed more about her amazing coffee machine than she did about her baby.   I just found that odd and hard to relate to.  She seemed to love her husband but also bullied him into moving etc.  Just not a likeable character even after her rehabilitation.  Side note: Something that would have rounded out the book for me would be to know what her husband Bob's inner thoughts were throughout his wife's accident, rehabilitation and her reentry into their lives.

Secondly,  I have to admit that the story dragged in the middle and the ending was predictable.  Everything seemed to fall into place a little too easily for me.

This next point may have more to do with my cranium than the author's words.  Even though Genova detailed the symptoms of Left Neglect I still had a hard time conceptualizing exactly what it felt like to live with this brain injury.  The left doesn't exist ... why?  How can a brain not acknowledge half of everything?  I just couldn't wrap my brain around the concept.

What I did enjoy about this book is seeing how Sarah's life changes after the accident.  She is literally forced by her injuries to slow down her chaotic life and reexamine and change her priorities.  I liked that her transformation wasn't immediate (that wouldn't have been believable) and that she stumbled and had to learn to accept help, even from her neglectful mother.  Sarah slowly learns that the things that once seemed essential (two homes, having a great nanny on-hand, climbing the corporate ladder) doesn't seem that important when Sarah sees all of the little things that she's been missing out on (heart-to-heart talks with her son, cuddling with her baby, not hustling out the door to the next appointment ...).

Don't get me wrong, I liked this book but it pales in comparison to "Still Alice".  What I am taking away from "Left Neglected" is the extremely important reminder to not take your life or loved ones for granted.  Things can literally change in an instant.

My Rating: 3/5 stars


Renee said...

Good review Laurie, I have yet to read this one, however it is waiting for me at the library right now. I have Still Alice on my to read list, maybe I'll bump it up a little.

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Renee -- While I did like "Left Neglected" I highly recommend reading "Still Alice". I loved that book! I'd love to know what you thought of both books!

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