Friday, May 13, 2011

Left Neglected - Lisa Genova

Summary:  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 relinquishes control to those around her, including her formerly absent mother. Without the ability to even floss her own teeth, she struggles to find answers about her 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 in fact 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.
Summary and cover photo from indiebound.org

My Review: "Vice-President of human affairs at Berkley Consulting Firm" are likely the first words to fly from Sarah Nickerson's mouth when asked to define herself. This thirty-something woman is also the wife of a career-driven business professional and the mother of three young children. Then one fateful day Sarah has an accident on her way to work and life as she knows it comes to an abrupt end. The accident results in a brain injury leaving Sarah with Left Neglect, a condition where the patient is entirely unaware of the left-side of any space.

Lisa Genova, author of Still Alice, does a phenomenal job explaining the puzzling condition of Left Neglect. Sarah's struggle to see anything on her left, to realize she still has a left arm, to learn to walk with an unresponsive left leg, to find the food on the left side of her plate, to read a watch after one hand slips past the six is at once both heartbreaking and inspiring. Sarah's plight brings new meaning to her life as she finds that although she can only witness half of the world she is now seeing more than she did in that corner office. Somewhere along the way Sarah comes to the realization that who a person is isn't necessarily defined by what that person does for a living.

This book is a fast-paced read as the reader is invited into the Nickerson family. An intimate relationship with the characters is formed early on. The children are named for Peanuts characters, yes that's right...Charlie, Lucy and Linus, and Sarah's intense work drive over all else was a bit hard to relate to. Yet it's impossible to read this novel and not feel each character's emotion with full force, regardless of if those feelings are justified or not.

As frequently happens with authors of an outstanding first book, this novel didn't quite hold up to expectations. It was good, very good actually but not as amazing as Still Alice. There were points in Still Alice where the Alzheimer disease transposed itself onto the reader. With Left Neglected sympathy is felt for Sarah and her struggle but the line to empathy is only toed, never crossed. That being said, this remains a novel I will be recommending.

My Rating: 4 Stars

To sum it up: An uplifting novel that gives insight into a rarely heard of condition and bestows the miracle of second chances.

1 comment:

Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Diaries) said...

I totally agree with your last statement...I was disappointed with this book...just didn't have the same "wow" factor as Still Alice.

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