Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review: "Left Neglected" by Lisa Genova

Considering  how much I loved Lisa Genova's Still Alice, I can admit that I was a little hesitant to read her latest, Left Neglected. I was excited, but yet I was a little worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations.

My worries were unfounded. Left Neglected was excellent, similar to Still Alice in some ways but different in a way that gave the book its own unique flavour. Left Neglected tells the story of Sarah Nickerson, a busy working mother who is always on the go. Every day she makes choices between her work and her family, every day she chooses which one will come out on top. Her husband, Bob, is equally as busy and the family functions by juggling the moments of their lives day by day.

Everything changes when Sarah, while trying to multitask while driving one day, gets in a serious accident which causes her brain damage. She is diagnosed with Left Neglect, which essentially means that her brain refuses to acknowledge that the left side of her body, and the world, exists. Suddenly she can't read or see the words on the left side of the page, her left arm refuses to respond to the signals that Sarah tries to send it, and her world is completely absent of things that are on the left.

With her insurance unwilling to cover more than the most basic of care for her recovery and with her life turned completely upside-down, Sarah must learn to cope with her new disability while trying to keep her life together.

Left Neglected is about more than just Left Neglect. It's about a woman trying to have it all: a career, a husband, a family, and essentially failing. Sure, she has all of the elements in place, but when she focuses on one thing, something from another aspect of her life seems to fall apart. I think that women now are expected to be able to "do it all", and Left Neglected gives one view on what could happen when one person simply cannot do it all to perfection. While I appreciated the insight into a form of brain damage that I previously knew nothing about, what I appreciated the most was Sarah's realizations about herself and her family when she is forced to take some downtime.

This book was well written and engrossing. In my opinion, Genova's observations about parenting in general were spot-on and I was able to relate to the story as a whole. The characters were ones that you couldn't help but care about from the beginning and I have a feeling that I won't be the only person who loves this book this year.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Challenges: 2011 100+ Reading Challenge

Thank-you to Simon & Schuster Canada for this review copy.

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