Left Neglected: Lisa Genova
In the follow up novel to her bestselling book, Still Alice, author Lisa Genova tells the story of a modern mother who confronts a traumatic brain injury. Dr. Genova holds a PhD. from Harvard University and brings her background in neuroscience into the lives of her characters. In the novel, Left Neglected, Sarah Nickerson is a type A business woman and harried mother to three young children: Charlie, Lucy, and Linus. She and her husband, Bob, are classic overachievers living a comfortable life in the suburbs of Boston and their second home in Vermont. Both parents work more than eighty hours per week and juggle their work and home life with aplomb. It is not usual for Sarah to check email while driving to work or occasionally miss one of her son’s soccer games. As the novel begins, the parents are also struggling with their oldest son, Charlie, being diagnosed with ADHD. Ultimately, Sarah is involved in a horrific car accident while looking up a number on her cell phone in the morning rush hour. She is diagnosed with a condition called left neglect in which her brain is unaware of the left side of her body. As the plot continues, Sarah must learn to live with her disability and reevaluates her priorities in life. She is assisted by her estranged mother, with whom she has had a painful past. However, Sarah evolves and carries readers along on her mental and physical metamorphosis. We learn with her that “having it all” can sometimes have catastrophic consequences.
As a current working mother who stayed home with my children for many years, I can relate to both sides of the character, Sarah. I believe the book is somewhat telling regarding the constant struggle many parents confront in trying to be present at all times, everywhere. Left Neglected shows readers that it is imperative to focus on what is most important and multi-tasking is not always a positive word.
In closing, Lisa Genova is a brilliant writer. She brings her unique perspective in neurology into her fiction but her characters also feel very real. Readers will leave her books with more knowledge into a fascinating field of science and with practical messages about being a woman in modern society. On Sept. 25, 2012, Dr. Genova will release her third novel, Love Anthony, about a mother and her love for a son with autism. I will be first in line to read this book and in my humble opinion; Genova has stumbled upon a new and intriguing genre of fiction.