Book Review : Left Neglected

May 3, 2011 book review 7

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
Published by: Gallery Books a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
322 pages

Lisa Genova takes her readers on another lesson of neurological anomalies with this book,following Still Alice, which was about early onset Alzheimer’s disease.   This time the topic is a brain injury referred to as left neglect.  Sarah Nickerson is a high powered human resources VP, and wife and mother to three.  She and her husband Bob work in Boston and live in an affluent suburb.  Sarah is always busy, rushing rushing, and like so many of us multi-tasking, only one day as she is driving and using her phone, she takes her eye of the road for one minute, and she has a terrible accident.  Somehow winning the game of rock, paper, scissors will never be the same.
Sarah wakes in the hospital, and though the car is totaled she is alive, however there was an injury to her head, some bleeding and it had to be drained.  Sarah feels her head partially shaved and stapled.  When she complains of not seeing food or flatware on her tray the nurse knows there is more going on.  This is when her Dr explains to her and Bob that an injury to the right hemisphere can leave neurological damage, left neglect, where basically a patient has no awareness of the left side of their body, or anything to their left.  This is a real condition.
As you can imagine, this leaves so many unanswered questions, will Sarah recover, what can she be taught how to do?   Sarah spends many weeks in the hospital and rehab, and just as in real life she is sent home, not because she is 100% capable, but  because her insurance has paid all it will. 
This journey of finding her left is long, her mother re-enters her life, Sarah and she have never been close since a tragic accident when Sarah was a girl.  Living within their financial means Sarah and Bob must both work to keep the standard of living they enjoy, a nice home, a vacation home, multiple activities for the kids, a part time nanny, etc.
I started this book and didn’t really like Sarah very much, she had a very good life, job, family, had it all, and she seemed to appreciate things for the wrong reason, and I felt sad for her.  I started to like her more when she realized she was going to need help, when she began to see how she had missed so much in her life.
I loved how respectfully the topic of this brain injury were handled, Genova is an ace at research and getting the facts right.  The mother daughter relationship was handled very well.  It is one of the most complicated of them all, to me, as when we grow into adults we have to change that bond some, and they are not always smooth transitions.  Sarah and her mother had their own complications, and these felt very sincere to me.   I think I may have read this book too soon after her first book, because honestly it paled in comparrison  in the quality of the writing, the story and empathy it evoked from me.
I felt like the some things were written as just plain silly, like the names of their children, Charlie, Lucy and Linus, I mean really that was sort of odd.  Towards the end of the book things fell into place a bit too easy for Sarah, I can’t say more or it gives too much away.
I like this book, I would recommend it to any of my friends, especially those who enjoy books about recovering from injuries.  I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars, and I look forward to the next book Lisa Genova writes, as I know it will not only draw me in, but teach me something.

7 Responses to “Book Review : Left Neglected”

  1. lisa :)

    I’ve been wanting to read this since I enjoyed Still Alice so much. I love how Genova weaves complicated medical experiences into her writing in ways that are easy to understand and relate to.

  2. Terra

    Hmm, I am interested. The Schultz reference is weird…Really weird. Hmmm. I might have to check it out.

  3. Lauren Michelle

    Ugh, I don’t like those names! I hate when writers tackle a topic like this, but don’t succeed with executing the writing well. I was really interested in the book until you said that. I’ll probably still want to read it, but I just won’t buy it. I get really bummed out when a story sounds really interesting, but the writing is merely sub par.

  4. Zibilee

    I find the subject of this book fascinating, and though you had a few troubles with it, it does sound like something I would be very interested in reading. I liked your thoughtful review, thanks for sharing it!

  5. WOW

    I just finished this book as well and had a similar reaction to it. I thought Still Alice was a much stronger book. What I really felt was missing from this book was a more indepth exploration of Sarah’s relationship with her husband after her injury. We get very little insight into how this effects him and their relationship. I thought that was a huge oversight.

  6. Pam

    Oops! The above comment is from me. I logged into my old WOW account and when I logged out it apparently didn’t work. Sorry about that.

  7. Bonnie

    Thanks for the review Anita,
    I read “Still Alice” and it was just one of those books that I still think about. It really stuck with me so I’m anxious to check this one out. It’s going on my library request list.

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