"Waiting on Wednesday" feature on. Like Still Alice, Genova uses her background as a Harvard neuroscientist to delve into a story driven not only by the usual hallmarks of fiction-plot, character- but also involving a neurological twist. Left Neglected tells the story of Sarah Nickerson, a supermom living in the suburbs of Boston as she works as a high-ranked business executive and tries to make time for her three young children. Sarah's life is extremely hectic but when a car-accident leaves her brain-damaged she is finally forced to slow down and question what she has been rushing towards. The result of her injury is that even though Sarah has a perfectly healthy left side of her body, her brain simply doesn't recognize it, a condition called left neglect. As Sarah begins the slow and possibly incomplete journey towards recovery she is forced to accept her from those around her, including her mother who she has not seen in years, as well as reassess what exactly it is she wants out of her life after all.
Left Neglected is more uplifting than Still Alice- left neglect is not quite the life sentence that Alzheimer's is- but it is certainly still a book about a strong, intelligent woman struggling through neurological challenges that it is hard for somebody who has not experienced to truly imagine. What Genova does so well is her ability to realistically take the reader into a damaged mind, showing the strength that is possible. Left Neglected was particularly personal to me as my stepfather had a major stroke almost two years ago and among the deficits he has been left with is paralysis and a lack of awareness of his left side. Like Sarah, when he awoke from his injury he was unaware that anything was even wrong and like Sarah he has strongly benefited from an adapted skiing program. I spoke with him about Left Neglected and he strongly agreed with the perspective that Genova had given, a fact which likely stems from her extensive discussion with individuals who have the condition.
In addition, all the secondary characters such as Sarah's mother, husband and children all have adorable and quirky personalities which felt completely believable. What Genova does in Left Neglected, as well as her debut, she does extremely well. However I was slightly disappointed that the novel failed to surprise me- there was nothing in Left Neglected that I hadn't already come to expect of Genova as a writer from Still Alice, and for it to truly excel that is what was needed. Left Neglected is a strong and realistic portrayal of what it is like inside the mind of a woman living with left neglect. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoyed Still Alice, as well as readers interested in neuroscience, or even simply books dealing with personal growth and challenges- Left Neglected is an excellent, if not totally surprising, novel. ****
Number of Pages: 336 pages
Published: January 2011
Source: E-galley from publisher