Friday, March 18, 2011

Left Neglected--A Review

Left Neglected ~~ Lisa Genova
3  of 5 stars

Left Neglected is the story of Sarah, a workaholic, type A personality mother and wife who has an all-consuming job at which she works nearly 80 hours a week. Her husband is much the same, and neither of them seem to have time for much other than their jobs, until Sarah has an accident in which she suffers a traumatic brain that results in a condition known as left neglect. For Sarah, "the left" doesn't exist--the left side of her body, anything to her left. She must relearn many things, including how to walk, how to read, and how to be.

Genova does a great job of immersing us in Sarah's world, especially in her job and her marriage and family-life (or lack thereof) before her accident.  I think that that Genova also does an exceptional job of immersing the reader into Sarah's word post-accident by placing us in Sarah's head. The details with which Genova explains the condition of left neglect and brings us, as readers, into Sarah's rehabilitation are part of what make this book worth reading.

While the story is certainly attention-holding and well-written, I found myself wanting to like Left Neglect more than I actually did. I found myself wanting more from the book and not really liking Sarah or her husband very much. I had a hard time connecting with her and her husband as characters, perhaps because I found myself gritting my teeth every time Sarah mentioned how much her work life would be easier if they could just afford a bigger house so they could have a 5th bedroom for a live-in nanny. I found myself distinctly disliking her as a mother.
Further, I really felt like that parts of the book were rushed, especially the ending.  I was really disappointed in what I felt like was a very contrived situation that was worked in at the end of the book as a plot device.  It's almost as if Genova couldn't figure out a way to wrap up Sarah's story as she began to make gains in her recovery and reshape her life as she finally determined what was really important in her life.

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