“I’ve been so focused on what’s horrible and unfair and terrifying about my condition that I hadn’t acknowledged what is positive about my condition, as if the positive had been sitting quietly by itself on the far edge of the left side of my condition, there but completely ignored.”
Author: Lisa Genova Published: 2011 Pages: 406
Left Neglected is a book which centres on one woman’s struggle with coming to terms with an injury which has changed her life forever. Sarah is a successful woman at the top of her game; she’s got a husband and three kids, an absolutely hectic life, and no room for mistakes. But when she takes her eyes of the road one morning, her whole life suddenly grinds to a halt. Now she must come to terms with her new life with an injury that has the potential to stop her doing everything that’s become familiar over the last few decades. For such a career-driven woman, her left neglect may become a life-altering challenge, but also may help her realise that she’s been focusing on all the wrong things.
I’ve read two of Genova’s other books: Still Alice and Inside the O’Breins, and I loved both of them when I read them. Genova has a real talent for making the reader sympathise and relate to her protagonists. What’s great about Genova’s novels is that you fall in love with her writing and characters but end up learning about something completely new too. It helps that as the reader, I was learning what Left Neglect was, as Sarah was too. I had never even heard of Left Neglect before I started reading this and, as much as it was fascinating, Genova’s novel really highlights the devastating impact it can have on a person and their family.
One moment of clarity for me was when the protagonist describes how in her job she used to take 5 minutes to cry at her desk, before resuming her busy day. She was controlling her emotion to the point that it had to boil over every now and again, and while Sarah’s life may seem appealing, when she mentions details like that, I couldn’t help but think, is it really worth it? It is a shame that she had to experience such a life-changing event to have that realisation, but I think even Sarah understands that the accident becomes a bit of a wake up call. It makes her realise what’s really important.
As always, the medical jargon and facts which Genova used to help the reader understand Sarah’s injury, never once bogged me down or made me unable to understand what was happening. She is good at writing it for a reader with no neurological understanding while still educating them too.
As in her other books, Genova is sensitive, honest, and compelling in her depiction of a life-chainging condition. This is definitely my favourite Genova novel so far, and I urge you to read this as a stark reminder of the realities of life and the ability for someone to conquer a condition they thought was unconquerable.