Review: Lisa Genova, Left Neglected

Posted on Feb 11 2015 - 12:00pm by Claire Herbaux
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Sarah is the vice president of Human Resources in a big consulting firm, wife, home-owner and mother of three and suddenly, she has an accident and is left with a serious brain injury. But Left Neglected isn’t just about her rehabilitation, it is about so much more.

“One hundred percent has always been my goal in everything, unless extra credits are involved, and then I shoot higher. I also plan to recover faster than anyone here would predict. I wonder what the record is.”

I can relate. In this matter, I am EXACTLY like Sarah. And quite a few of us are. We want her lifestyle, we want her life. And this is why this story is as touching as it is.

Because Sarah is honest.

Left NeglectedShe isn’t always the perfect patient, or mother, or daughter, or wife. Even a competitive winner has moments of doubt and childlike reactions, fits or little tantrums. It makes her character so powerful. In the same way I struggled with her at the start of her rehabilitation, my heart jumped with every one of her successes and slowly, with her, I understood what it means to take small steps, and that having to do homework like your primary school son with ADD, isn’t something to be ashamed of. It was probably one of the best things that could have happened to both of them.

When you have to rely on others for every action and every part of your daily routine, relationships get tested and it reveals who cares. Everyone who has been in this situation will claim this. I don’t want to spoil what to me is one of the most important strings of this story, but nevertheless I will say that the honesty of the book makes you take the journey from the fear of having to rely on people, to the rebellion to the acceptance and new, balanced relationship between Sarah and everyone around her.

I don’t particularly like dream sequences, in this case the introductions to the first few chapters, which are signs that Sarah ignores in her busy life of being a professional, a mother and wife. First they don’t seem to make sense, and when they make sense they suddenly feel too obvious.

But this book has also achieved something I only rarely see in books: It’s when the writing style tells half the story. Professional work Sarah has a different rhythm to home Sarah. The drive to work is different from the time with the children or a talk with her husband. The structure, the wording, the syntax – everything fits. I stopped at one point, imagining someone was reading this book aloud the way the sentences sounded in my head. I wouldn’t need to understand the words, I would still understand the situation. Just reading, I felt stressed with her, I felt like I was home or in a rush in morning traffic.
Probably every book should do that, but only very few do. This is one of them. No imagination necessary, Lisa Genova has put all the words and sentences together, ready for the story to be lived.

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