Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Left Neglected

Sarah's life is on track—the fast track. She and her husband both work 80 hour weeks at high-powered jobs in Boston, while spending as much time as possible with their three small children. Sarah is a juggler extraordinaire, keeping her demanding job and her family as balanced as she can. But when a car accident leaves her recovering from Left Neglect, a neurological impairment that robs her of her ability to control the left side of her body, she can barely get out of bed on her own. As Sarah struggles to resume her over-scheduled life, she must juggle new things—her son's ADHD diagnosis, the return of her estranged mother, and her own limitations. Given a traumatic opportunity to reassess what is really important in life, Sarah must decide where her priorities lie. (Simon & Schuster Reading Guide)

This book was due back at the library so avoid those library fines I shuffled it to the top of the list!! I'm glad I did.

Left Neglect was so readable and I was immediately pulled right into Sarah's story. I had heard the author, Lisa Genova, speak at the Tucson Festival of the Book back in March so I was familiar with the premise of this book. Lisa Genova is a nueroscientist in addition to being a 2nd time author. This well crafted story felt so personal. The author was so informative but never too technical - I felt myself getting more informed and smarter with every chapter. I felt that I was learning along with Sarah, her main character.

I must admit that I was nervous and anxious about how fast paced Sarah's life was before Neglect. She just couldn't see the 'forest for the trees.' But, isn't that most of us? We don't recognize the blessings and gifts we have right in front of us. For that reason alone I knew that the title was going to have double meaning. Amazing how those words worked so perfectly both to describe the condition physically and emotionally.

Reading about someone's new 'normal' is intriguing but also hard for me. (Like watching Biggest Loser I guess.) I cheer them on and worry that they can make it. I wonder what their new life will be like and many times worry that they will really find happiness in their new situation. But it's also so easy to sit in a chair and read, to watch from the sidelines. There's no loss or effort on my part. (Believe me those workouts hurt more when I'm doing them than when they do it on the TV.) Creating that new 'normal' is painful and pain-filled. Although this book wraps things up in a nicer package and bow, I recognize that it is not always so. Sarah, the main character, hones her more positive attitude and uses it to help herself get better and adjust. Some pretty good advice!!

Sarah's first grade son is also struggling with focus at home and at school. As parents, Sarah and her husband, Bob, feel resentful and child-like when they are called into the classroom to speak about their little boy. Their son may have some problems, but he's their perfect little boy and hearing any bad news is just that; bad news. This whole scene was so real for me. The author could have been monitoring conferences in my classroom!! (I really liked the part where the parents had to sit in the first grade-little chairs~ hey, it's only fair I have to sit in them too!) The characters in this book though are progressive, willing to help their son at any cost or effort. Too often parents aren't willing to admit that there is any problem at all!! With a teacher's and a parent's support as well as proper diet, medication or therapy ADD and ADHD students can be successful. Without even one of these supports it's like climbing Mt. Everest! It was so great to have a son and a mom coping with a brain issue in this book. It made understanding Left Neglect even easier for me.

Lisa Genova has become a spokesman for Alzheimer's after her book, Still Alice, and now has become a spokeswoman for TBI (traumatic brain injury) with this book. In Tucson Lisa Genova stated that using her nueroscience background in her writing is a gift to her grandma and a payback for her education. She stated that she always wanted to feel like she contributed something positive. Getting these stories out to the public really is a positive! Thanks, Lisa!

Before the accident, Sarah muses about all the things that she wishes she and her husband could do, but don't make time for. I've never been a bucket list kind of person, but I think I could create a short list like this....oh, I do!! It's called my 'summer vacation' from teaching!!


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I do want to read this one, as i totally enjoyed Still Alice, by Genova.

Anonymous said...

What a nice review! I enjoyed reading about your experiences as a teacher and I totally concur in your evaluation of LEFT NEGLECTED. It's definitely one of my top books of 2011.

I was absolutely swept away with STILL ALICE, but I was deep in the trenches of assisting with my parents' dementia at the time. It was very personal to me. I loved this book as well, but happily, it's highlights a condition that I don't have experience with. However, I think everyone can relate to the hurried lifestyle and the quest for faster and better and more and more. I hope many more people read Lisa Genova's books and I can't wait to see what she will write next.

Inside A Book said...

Diane, You will really enjoy it as you just fall into the book and her life. What insight she displayed.

Kay, my heart goes out to you as you served your parents. I still can't read Still Alice because of that fear. She told us in Tucson that her next book may be about autism. She was relaxed and genuine. I felt like she must write about herself!!