Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lisa Genova is no ordinary novelist. For starters, she holds a PhD in Neuroscience from Harvard. Eat your heart out, Jackie Collins. When I stumbled--literally stumbled, it was on a cardboard rack in the middle of a narrow aisle in the drug store--upon Genova's marvelous first novel "Still Alice" and read her bio on the back, I thought, "fine, but can she write?"
Genova is one rare bird. She combines her medical knowledge with an ability to write interesting, fast-paced, human stories on a par with anything by Jacquelyn Mitchard or Jodi Picoult.
"Left Neglected" is the fictional story of Sarah Nickerson, who spends her days running like a greyhound after a rabbit on a stick, pouring herself into her high-powered job at a Boston firm. She logs eighty hours a week, then squeezes in time for her three kids and her similarly driven husband Bob. This woman doesn't know the meaning of "down time." Even on her morning commute, she is making calls, or texting and sending emails when there are traffic back-ups. One rainy morning, she is messing with her phone and doesn't notice the cars all stopped ahead of her until it is too late. At high speed, her car goes off the road and turns over. Sarah is lucky to survive at all, but she sustains a serious head injury with a curious result: Sarah no longer cares about or even sees anything on her left.
Anyone standing on her left may as well be standing in Tibet. When asked to draw a cat, Sarah draws only half a cat...the right half. Her left hand and left leg are only rumors, to her. It takes a while for Sarah to begin to understand that she won't be breezing back into her office anytime soon.
And guess what? Things can always get worse. Sarah's estranged mother arrives on the scene to help her do everything from getting dressed to managing the bathroom. Sarah would love to put her mom on the next bus back to Cape Cod, but she can't; like it or not, she really needs the help.
They say, though, that every wound holds a blessing. Sarah's life won't be the same as it was, but perhaps it shouldn't be. Big changes are coming, and Lisa Genova makes the reader care about all the characters in the book from the first page to the last. I recommend "Left Neglected" enthusiastically.
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