169 of 179 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2011
Beautifully written, Genova takes us into the hurried and harried lives of a young family who seem to have it all or do they? Running in all directions,jobs, daycare, after school activites,you know the drill. Traveling in her car Sarah looks away from the road for one split second, shes doing the one thing that so many of us have become guilty of in this high tech over connected world we live in,texting while driving. In that split second of inattention Sarah's world change's forever.
The aftermath of the accident leaves Sarah with a traumatic brain injury know as left brain neglect. For the individual who suffers this devestating brain insult it is beyond all comprehension, because to Sarah the left side of her body ceases to exsist.
I found this book to be truly fascinating as Ms. Genova has the uncanny ability to get inside Sarah's head and describes this injury from her point of view, so that you truly understand what she is feeling. It's an amazing gift and I believe made this book a most rewarding read.
It is also a true cautionary story, one blink of an eye life can change forever and things can never be the same, we all get this, but this book reminds us quite vividly just how devestating the consquences can be.
70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
Are you looking for a book worthy of spending your Christmas gift card on? I've got one for you.
Lisa Genova had a New York Times bestseller with her first novel Still Alice. I know she's got another bestseller on her hands with her latest book Left Neglected - releasing Jan 4/11.
Sarah Nickerson has it all and can do it all. Can't she? High powered job - minimum of 80 hours a week, gorgeous house in a sought after neighbourhood, vacation home in Vermont, 3 children and a devoted husband. The one thing she doesn't seem to have though, is enough time.
She can't make it to every soccer game and is sure that the other parents think that "Mothers who miss the games, like me, are bad mothers." "I love my children and know they're important, but so is my career and the life that career affords us." And her love life...well..."It's our typical morning good-bye kiss. A quick peck. A well-intentioned habit....It's a routine kiss, but I'm glad we do it. It does mean something. It's enough. And it's all we have time for."
You get the picture. It is while trying to multitask - driving while talking on the cell phone - that Sarah's world is turned upside down. She gets into a horrific crash - one that leaves her with a traumatic brain injury. She is unaware of the left side of anything, including herself. And yes, the condition is real.
Unable to work, dependent on others and forced to accept that her life will never be quite the same, Sarah must reexamine her life, her priorities and her relationships - the things in her life that have been 'left neglected.' I found the rekindling of the relationship with her mother especially poignant.
Although the subject matter is serious, Genova handles it with candor and humour. Sarah's voice is so appealing and honest. Genova has a degree in Biopsychology and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard - her descriptions of a patient coping with brain injury are both accurate and informative.
But Left Neglected is simply a really, really good read. Genova's prose flow so easily, the story is addictive and I became invested in Sarah's journey. And maybe take some time to reevaluate your own priorities.
"What else is there? Maybe success can be something else, and maybe there's another way to get there."
Eminently gift card worthy. I think this is going to be one of 2011's best sellers too. Five stars for me.
56 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2011
I looked forward to reading this book, since it came highly reviewed. However, I found myself put off by the author's unimaginative writing. The dream sequences at the beginning of the novel are intriguing, but the rest of the book gave only a surface telling of one woman dealing with the condition called Left Neglect. The main character is supposed to be a high powered business woman with a Harvard degree, but she lacks emotional depth of any kind. Her internal dialogue makes her seem shallow--consequently, I was unable to empathize with the character. The author seemed more in tune with the material trappings of the character's world--her wardrobe of high-heeled shoes and coffee machines and diamond jewelry--than she did with the reflexivity that is bound to occur when one's life has been completely dismantled. At various points, the character's behavior and emotional struggles seem juvenile. So, overall, I'd say this is a readable story about an interesting topic, but not compelling in any literary sense.
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2011
I just finished reading Left Neglected (which was wonderfully on my new Kindle yesterday morning!) and really, really liked it. The left neglect condition is fascinating to me even though I luckily cannot quite fathom it. The story was engrossing even beyond the traumatic brain injury, with the description of Sarah's life pre and post accident. I got stressed just reading about her life! I think that this would be a fascinating book club book, particularly if there is a mix of career and stay at home moms.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Lisa Genova has done it again delivering a compelling portrayal of a life plan interrupted and the journey that ensues in reclaiming a simpler, more meaningful life. Being afflicted with Left-sided neglect, I completely identified with Sarah. My emotions spilled as I know first-hand it is not only overcoming the physical changes, but the more deeper emotional transformation that one goes through when re-inventing one's self after a life-altering event. This book is truly a thought-provoking experience. I could gush endlessly about the story, the caliber of writing, the emotions it stirred in me, but it's difficult to convey concisely as Sarah's story has so many facets to reclaiming her life. It will make you ponder the 'what if...how would I cope' long after you have turned the last page. Superb!
Don't Leave Me This Way: Or When I Get Back on My Feet You'll Be Sorry
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2011
I basically agree with all of the reviews on here that compare Left Neglected with Still Alice. I found it impossible to empathize with the main character -- her perfectionist tendencies, juvenile attitude(in terms of her relationship with her mother), and sickening upper class lifestyle all actually made me cringe. I found her very unbelievable, and an extremely distant mother. She complains about her own mother not being a part of her life, yet she is barely a part of her children's own lives. She truly didn't seem to have any redeeming qualities. Even after her accident, she remained extremely annoying and distant. And honestly, reading about her unusual condition wasn't even that interesting to me. After a while I was just like, I get it, she can't see the left side of things, stop beating me over the head with it, already.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2011
Left Neglected is a quick read, and the storyline is admirable enough. I enjoyed the author's descriptions of how Sarah, the main character, viewed the world after her injury. I felt I could really better understand this condition and what these people experience. However, as a previous reviewer had mentioned, I find the character pretty shallow throughout the book, even after she comes to the realization that life is not all about money. I found it pretty distracting to always be reading about the expensive, brand name items mentioned by the character. I mean, really, when describing her son's ski jacket, instead of writing "His bright orange ski jacket" she had to write, "his bright orange North Face ski jacket." I don't think that name dropping really adds to the storyline, it was just annoying, and quite frequent. How many times did the character have to remind us that she has a degree from Harvard? Overall, I thought it was ok, but I don't feel like it went that deep. It kind of sat on the surface, and was a bit cliche. I have not read Still Alice, but will definitely check it out, even if just to compare the two books.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by a friend. If you like reading about brand named clothes, Harvard, work-aholics, keeping up the Joneses, and ignoring children, then this novel is for you. Wait!..was this a novel or a diary? It seemed like I was reading the diary of a very materialistic woman. This book never really kept my interest. It started off slow and it kept going on..and on...and on. It took me one month to read it from cover to cover because I would lose interest in it and set it down, then pick it up some days later hoping that something would happen to spark my interest. It was painfully boring. I thought my eyes were going to bleed.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Thirty-seven year old Sarah Nickerson's life is incredibly hectic. She routinely puts in an eighty-hour work week, tries to spend some quality time with her three small children, and enjoys rare nights out with Bob, her husband of nine years. Bob and Sarah, who are both graduates of Harvard Business School, have worked hard to earn their comfortable home in an affluent suburb of Boston in addition to their vacation retreat in Vermont. Sarah's job as vice president for human resources pays more than Bob's, so she needs to be on her game (which means doing three or four things at once) in order to accomplish all that is demanded of her. One day, while driving to work in a rainstorm, a moment of inattention will cost Sarah dearly.
Lisa Genova, whose first novel, "Still Alice," movingly brought home the heartbreak of early-onset Alzheimer's, has a PhD in neuroscience, so she thoroughly understands the consequences of traumatic brain injury. When Sarah is injured in an automobile accident, the right hemisphere of her brain is damaged. She suffers from a condition known as "Left Neglect," which makes it impossible for her to take in information on her left side. This means that walking is a challenge, since her brain does not recognize that she has a left leg; eating is no picnic, especially if she needs to use a knife and fork (her left arm has a will of its own); and even getting dressed, brushing her teeth, and using the restroom become herculean tasks. She does what she can to improve with the help of dedicated physical and occupational therapists, but Sarah fears that she may never fully recover. Not only is her livelihood in jeopardy, but her loss of independence threatens her self-esteem and emotional well-being.
Genova tries to hit all the right notes, but the plot is somewhat predictable. Before her accident, Sarah admits that her life is "unsustainable" and that she needs to take things easier. She rushes about, uses her cell phone while driving, and shockingly, leaves her baby alone in her car while dropping off her older children at school. It is a miracle that tragedy does not strke sooner. After Sarah ends up unable to work or even do routine chores, she finally take stock of her life. For the first time, she weighs the value of her accomplishments against the price that she has paid for success. There is a contrived subplot involving Sarah's mother, who has not been in touch with her for years but reappears at a crucial time. Although Sarah is a loving, albeit distracted, wife and parent, she is also somewhat self-absorbed. Bob, who cheerfully puts up with his competitive and sometimes demanding wife, seems to have infinite patience and should be nominated for sainthood.
"Left Neglected" would have been stronger if the author had aimed for more subtlety in her storytelling. It is never a good idea to hammer home one's themes, even such admirable ones as: Take the time to enjoy and appreciate what you have each day; it is sometimes better to forgive other people's trespasses than nurse a grudge; and material possessions may be desirable, but they are less significant than one's health and peace of mind. In spite of its occasional heavy-handedness, the book is worthwhile for its depiction of the many ways in which Sarah's condition affects her and her family. It is also good to see that there is hope for some individuals who suffer from traumatic brain injury. With a great deal of patience and hard work, Sarah slowly regains some of the functions she has lost. The novel is generally engrossing, and certain standout passages are wryly humorous and poignant. For instance, when Sarah tries to navigate her way to the fridge to retrieve a diet coke, her clumsiness become a comedy of errors that leaves her laughing at her own ineptitude. It is healing when this intense woman starts taking herself a bit less seriously, and it is instructive to observe the formidable challenges that she and her loved ones courageously face each day.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
When I first read Still Alice I couldn't wait for Lisa Genova's sophmore book to come out. Sadly, I find this book not as gripping as Still Alice, though it's along the same track. Genova certainly uses her Harvard degree to write complex novels on nuerosciene related issues.
I will say this- Genova is an excellent writer. She writes in a very readable way, and very thouroughly develops her main characters. Sarah Nickerson is nothing is not complex. The story is relatable to so many people, especially women- but not just men and women. We race through our lives driven to suceed but sometimes find, usually by accident that our successful lives are being measured on the wrong stick. An unfortunate accident leaves Sarah to face these truths that change her life forever.
There are some real life lessons to heed in Genova's book.
What I didn't like were several things. First of all this book is MORE than 100 pages to long. About 120 pages, and it's only a 326 page book. The middle section becomes challenging. Sarah's character is negative and the book drones on for hundreds of pages without any human growth. Now, I understand the negativity. Sarah has been handicapped and obviously that's not something that someone can easily swallow. However, there is some accute denial (also natural) that makes the negativity a conflict though.
Even though all is righted in the end I feel that Sarah is unfair to her mother. I also feel like Sarah is a little hypocritical. She's very judgemental at the start, but even after her accident she stays that way. I get it- trust me- but still. It's over the top. Sarah is in the rat race, and trying to keep up with the Joneses- but it's TOO much. Sarah is so arrogant, and materialistic that I find it very distracting and it diminishes her character. Honestly, I started to really feel like it was just a way for Genova to add pages to the book, and ramble on about Harvard and Boston and how busy Bostonians are as if people elsewhere in the country aren't busy. It was too smug, and again - at times just seemed to be the author more than Sarah.
The accident occurs on page 65, but I don't believe Sarah has any humbling moments until page 200. As Sarah starts to see that she doesn't want the fast paced life she tries to get her husband to envision a life elsewhere. She'd had the clarity of the accident to guide her to this. However, pre-accident she would have never understood this. Yet, even though he husband is now supporting her, but also acting as a caregiver she is very frustrated and mad when he doesn't jump on the band wagon. Sarah really has to work hard to appreciate her mother. She was neglected by her mother as a child- but in many ways she has neglected her own children. And even after the accident she isn't overly involved with her kids. She's still very self-centered. I honestly grew tired of reading page after page about their awesome coffee maker, and the shoes she has, and her nice clothes, and the fact that they have five remote controls.....Even after the accident Sarah's tone and materialism is still very present. It's a turn off. A job falls into her lap (Suprise!) but she expects her husband just to take a leap of faith without having a job for him. Poor Bob! He's working so hard to keep the family afloat, he's helping her do daily functions, all while barely holding onto a job, and he's clearly the more nurturing parent.
In the end I absolutely rooter for Sarah, but she's not someone I would be friends with. I didn't mind her internal struggle, and at times you do feel she's a great mother. She has a great marriage with Bob. But, she's a little selfish and I just wish her accident has humbled her more than it did. I think more than just discovering you want a faster paced life you should learn to discover we don't need all the "things" either. I am not entirely sure this was realized by Sarah.
Overall, way to long, very predicatble, and because of Sarah's attitude (even post accident she is referring to her son's teachers shoes as ugly. Which initially is just a direction for her to dump some hate but then it keep up even later) it fell short of being inspirational for me.
I'm torn now on Genova. Still Alice is a great book, but I'm not sure if Genova will stay on my "must read" list anymore. Maybe I'll give her another chance- but if she continues to fill up pages with materialistic dronings just to fill up pages- I think I'll pass.