Left Neglected

Left Neglected

A Novel

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
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From neuroscientist and bestselling author Lisa Genova comes a story of resilience in the face of a devastating diagnosis. After a car crash leaves a vibrant mother in her thirties with a traumatic brain disorder called "left neglect," she learns what truly matters most in life.

Sarah Nickerson, like any other working mom, is busy trying to have it all. One morning while racing to work and distracted by her cell phone, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In that blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her over-scheduled life come to a screeching halt. After a brain injury steals her awareness of everything on her left side, Sarah must retrain her mind to perceive the world as a whole. In so doing, she also learns how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter most.

In this powerful and poignant New York Times bestseller, Lisa Genova explores what can happen when we are forced to change our perception of everything around us. Left Neglected is an unforgettable story about finding abundance in the most difficult of circumstances, learning to pay attention to the details, and nourishing what truly matters.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Gallery Books, c2011
ISBN: 9781439164655
9781439164631
Branch Call Number: GENO
Characteristics: 327 p. ; 23 cm

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susan_findlay
May 23, 2017

This is the third book I've read by Lisa Genova. I gave the other two 5 stars. This one hovers in the 3 to 3.5 star range. Objectively, it ought to be as good as Still Alice and Inside the O'Briens. The medical condition is a bit less tragic than early onset Alzheimers or Huntington's disease, but it still royally messed up the main character's life - and I don't really like to play the "whose tragedy is more tragic" game. This one's pretty darn awful. Also, I'd never heard of left neglect before, and I love learning about new things. So, intellectually, that's an advantage for this book.

Emotionally, though, this book doesn't resonate the way that the other two do. It never made me cry. I don't need to cry to give a book 5 stars, but I feel like this book should have made me cry given the subject matter. If I put myself in the main character's shoes, I would be absolutely crushed to lose control over half my body, thereby losing my job and not even being able to look after my children. So, why didn't I put myself in her shoes? I *was* Alice when I was reading her story, but never once was I Sarah.

The trouble started with the dream sequences at the beginning of the first six chapters. I think they were supposed to convince me that Sarah is really really busy and that that's taking its toll on her mentally, leaving her really really stressed. But mostly they annoyed me. They broke the flow of the story. They didn't make me sympathize with poor stressed out Sarah; they made me grumpy. They didn't really impart much useful information either; the only one that really helped me get to know Sarah was the one about her childhood; the rest were just random weird dreams - and "person who has random weird dreams" isn't a particularly unique character trait. I was very very happy to see that chapter seven started without an annoying dream sequence.

Another thing that made it difficult to sympathize with Sarah was that her condition was not due to genetics beyond her control. It was her own damn fault. I don't question the validity of including the point that "this thing that a lot of people do is really stupid and can result in people getting really badly hurt", but it made it a bit harder to sympathize with the character. For most of the book, it also felt like that point was just going to be glossed over and ignored; I'm thankful that it was eventually revisited.

Finally, it can be hard to relate to "oh no! how will we afford the mortgages on our very expensive home and our vacation ski lodge?". The eventual solution felt a little pat, and like it would only ever happen to people who lead totally charmed lives. Basically, if you were someone who sympathizes with Eponine rather than Cosette (for those who know Les Miserables), you may find it difficult to sympathize with Sarah. She has the same "tragic childhood, but her life has been pretty perfect for a long time" thing going for her that Cosette did. I think her son Charlie's ADD storyline was included to try and make her life feel less charmed, but it felt tacked on - and, frankly, it was his issue not hers.

All this said, it's not a bad book. It was worth reading. It was interesting. But it would have been *so* much better without those annoying dream sequences (which, I think, predisposed me to be annoyed by the rest of my relatively minor grievances with the book).

r
RoseSuites
Oct 20, 2016

Left Neglect is a medical condition I did not know anything about. This book is sad yet filled with hope and joy. It is so important for us to see that there is so much more to life than working our lives away into oblivion. Sadly, many times it takes a tragic accident to make us see the real importance of life.

l
lilypad_1
Aug 29, 2015

Fascinating. Hopeful.

avidreader2002 Mar 11, 2015

Fascinating read.

s
sparkybobbi2
Jul 27, 2014

This book read "slower" than STILL ALICE and LOVE ANTHONY, in my opinion. However, the topic was stimulating, information well-researched, character realistic. The ending left me wanting. GOOD READ.

FREDDIE MARSDEN SMITH Jul 21, 2014

Well written, personalized story of a brain injury.
Adds a really unblinking dimension to recovery. Good read on many levels.

A patron review from the Adult Summer Game: "Excellent novel. Although it is about about a terrible car accident and the brain injury character Sarah must learn to live with, I found this to be a hopeful story.

ehbooklover Jan 16, 2014

I wasn’t sure that Genova would be able to top her first title “Still Alice”. Well, she sure came close. Filled with lots of wonderful characters and a very powerful message, this was a fantastic read that was difficult to put down. Warning: I haven’t cried this much while reading a book in a very long time. Have a box of Kleenex handy!

s
SusannahElf
Oct 21, 2013

I did not finish this book because I absolutely hated the main character "pre" accident. Really, raising three small children and working 80 hours a week? Did it really take a traumatic brain injury for her to figure out that her priorities might be skewed? She was just so annoying and oblivious that I didn't really care what happened to her.

k
KCLady
Aug 22, 2013

I really enjoyed this book and think it should be required reading for caregivers and families dealing with left neglect. My mother (in her mid-80's) had a massive stroke which left her with dementia and left neglect. The author does a great job of describing exactly how the left neglect affects behavior. It was interesting to discover how many of my mother's problems are due to the left neglect and not the dementia!

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carolefort
Sep 11, 2011

From book jacket. Sarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children, Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month-old Linus. Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son's teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it's a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe. A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller. Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt. A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah must pay close attention to the details surrounding her, including her formerly absent mother. Without an awareness of the food on the left side of her plate or even her own left hand, she is forced to search for answers in the void of this strange hemi-world, both about the past and her uncertain future. Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny, her new, true life, may lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets. And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach, if only she slows down long enough to notice.

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