K's Reviews > Left Neglected

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
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Apr 09, 2012

liked it
Recommended to K by: M
Recommended for: someone seeking brain candy with more redeeming features than chick lit

Sarah Nickerson is your typical overachiever protagonist -- major career, mom of three, multitasker extraordinaire. Her multitasking proves to be her undoing when, looking something up on her cell phone while driving, she is in a serious car accident. This novel describes the process of her coming to terms with both her traumatic brain injury and resulting "left neglect" which causes her to ignore the left side of her visual field, and her estranged mother who insists on entering her life now and helping her.

Having read Still Alice, I see the pattern to Genova's books -- a capable protagonist is abruptly handicapped by an uncontrollable neurological phenomenon and must adjust. The books do a good job of putting you inside the head of the sufferer and helping you imagine what life might be like with newly limited capacities. I appreciated the opportunity to learn about left neglect and to see the many ways in which it affects the sufferer, and thought Genova did a sensitive job of exploring some of the feelings and experiences of losing your capabilities.

Where I thought the novel fell short -- not intolerably so, but definitely short -- was in some of the characterization and multidimensionality of relationships. Sarah was A Formerly Capable Woman Now Handicapped and that was it. Nothing more, nothing less. Her mother, who had had to recover from traumas of her own, was not nearly as nuanced as she might have been. I felt this lack of nuance in their relationship as well, both before and after the accident. Sarah's husband Bob also felt more like a prop than a character -- an all-around good guy, loving husband, understandably broken up about Sarah's accident but otherwise okay. Surely there was more to this experience for everyone involved than Sarah's struggling to regain control over her visual field and her capabilities.

Not that that was a small thing, though, and it was well-depicted which is why I feel the novel had merits despite its flaws. If I had not already read Still Alice I might have found more novelty here and been more excited by the book. In general, though, this was an engaging and highly readable book even if it fell short of literature. If you're looking for an easy read that's more stimulating and worthwhile than your average chick lit romance, you might want to give this a try.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by M (new) - rated it 3 stars

M Loosely, lukewarmly recommended!


message 2: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K That's okay. I need some brain candy right now and so far this fits the bill b


Petra Eggs I really liked Still Alice so I'm disappointed this one isn't so good.


message 4: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K It was okay. I think I liked "Still Alice" better but this one had its merits. I also appreciated learning about left neglect, which was far less familiar to me than the Alzheimer's of "Still Alice."


Petra Eggs I wonder if this is going to be a whole new genre, a kind of macabre one, neurological disasters as fiction? Lol


message 6: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K Ha! That would be interesting.


Susan KG Thanks for describing so articulately why I couldn't be too enthusiastic about this book. While I did learn about "left neglect", I think there could have been more depth to the characters. Not sure I should try "Still Alice" 'cause I am wondering if it will be more of the same.


message 8: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K Thanks, Susan. It's nice to hear that your experience resonated with mine.


message 9: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K Sorry - pressed post too soon. I liked Still Alice better, but my sister preferred Left Neglected. I also wondered whether my preference for Still Alice was simply a function of my having read it first.


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