Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

From Goodreads: 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.

My Thoughts: I loved this book within the first 8 pages. The main character Sarah is so raw, so real. I loved the honesty Genova used to craft this character. At the beginning of this novel Sarah is the kind of character that most people hate, and I think that is how Genova wanted it. Personally I didn’t hate Sarah because she knew what she wanted and shamelessly went for it. I know that Type-A, 80 hour work week, career woman personality wouldn’t be a fit for me and my family, nor would I strive to be more like her, but I appreciated her honesty in trying to do it all. Nothing is sugar coated with Sarah and I loved that about her. Now in real life she probably wouldn’t be someone that I would have tea with on a regular basis (she would have been too busy for that anyway) but for a character in a book I really liked her.

I have read a lot of reviews from people who said they hated this book, or didn’t finish it because Sarah was selfish enough to talk on her cell phone and therefore they could not feel any sympathy for her. This book is not about feeling sorry for Sarah. Left Neglected is about Sarah’s struggle to reconcile her new reality. There is a constant battle going on inside of her – is accepting her Left Neglect a sign of giving up, can she beat it, does she have to beat it, is accommodating her Left Neglect good enough? Can she lead a full life without returning to the way of life she previously knew? A perfect example of her internal struggles can be found ¾ of the way through the book when Sarah (a previously avid skier) begins snowboarding on a modified snowboard with a trainer.

p. 261 "What is Bob going to think when he sees me on a handicapped snowboard? Will he think I’ve given in to my Neglect and given up? Have I given up? Is this accommodating or failing? Should I have waited until I’m recovered enough to ski like I used to? What is that never happens? Are my only two acceptable choices sitting tin the booth in the lodge or skiing like I used to before the accident, with nothing in between?"I loved the fact that Sarah did learn from her condition and it actually enabled her to identify ways to help her son who was struggling in school with ADHD. She was able to connect with Charlie in a way that she hadn't been able to previously, be it for lack of time or lack of understanding what he was going through. While she was working to recover she was also able to mend broken relationships and strengthen those that were not yet broken.

There were times when I found Left Neglected to be laugh out loud funny. Sarah has such a dry (and at times dark) humor when talking about life after her accident. The struggles that she faces are heart wrenching, unimaginable and sometimes funny. Sarah does not pity herself; not does she look for pity. She wasn’t willing to give up, or admit that she could no longer do the things she loved to do. She was going to read the Sunday Times even if it took her a week (or find an equally appealing alternative) but the point is she didn’t give up. I actually found her story to be quite uplifting.

I don’t want to give anything away by telling you how she reacted to her injury nor am I going to tell you how the book ended but I will tell you that the ending surprised me. That’s all. It was too good of a book to ruin it by giving you my opinion of the ending, or even the middle, so if you have read it and want to discuss it please send me an email – otherwise you are just going to have to read it for yourself! I really enjoyed reading this book, and Genova’s first book "Still Alice" has just jumped to the very top of my TBR pile!

 I received a free copy of Left Neglected from the publisher Simon and Schuster Canada as part of the book club. I was not required to write a review, and my opinions are my own.

Have you read Left Neglected? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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