Author: Lisa Genova.
Sarah Nickerson, like any other working mom, is busy trying to have it all. One morning while racing to work and distracted by her cell phone, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In that blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her over-scheduled life come to a screeching halt. After a brain injury steals her awareness of everything on her left side, Sarah must retrain her mind to perceive the world as a whole. In so doing, she also learns how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter most.
Left Neglected plunges us straight into the hectic life of Sarah Nickerson, a highly successful career-driven executive and mom. There’s no time to think as she whirls from email to breakfast to helping kids back to email ontowards school drop-off and then she’s rushing off to work already behind. The writing is so good at immersing you in Sarah’s juggling act that the first couple of chapters are actually stressful.
Then one rainy morning no different from any other, careening down a 70 mph highway, Sarah’s life comes to a screeching halt. Her first thoughts when she wakes up in the hospital are to wonder how fast she can get back to work, if she can do it in two weeks or if it’s going to take a month…
Turns out this hospital trip isn’t going to be something she can bounce back from quite that quickly. The car accident has inflicted her with a traumatic brain injury, resulting in a medical condition known as ‘Left Neglect’. From now on, the left side of her body and of the world doesn’t exist for Sarah. This is a real medical condition, by the way; it’s absolutely fascinating to learn about in such an immersive way. And as Sarah fights to take her body back, inch by inch, one more story-thread is woven in: her family relationships. Even as she gathers up the shards of her life, Sarah is also beginning to forgive her mother for the first time in a decade, and reweave a relationship she once thought irretrievable.
The whole “one accident destroyed their life” genre is particularly prone to extremes, either completely gloomy and depressing, or overly inspirational and Disney-level happy endings. Left Neglected walks the middle line, telling a realistic but hopeful story of slow, hard-earned recovery, making do, and learning to live a different kind of life. Four stars.
Sexual Content: Woman says she’s been too busy lately, too tired in the evenings, to have sexual intercourse with her husband. / One instance of a married couple having sex – there’s a little bit of description of the awkwardness, as the woman is disabled.
Language: 18 exclamations of “Oh my God”, 11 scatological terms, 5 d***, 3 hell, 1 a**h***
Violence: Some disturbing dreams, in which a woman once cuts her foot deeply, once gives away her ears and one eye, and once sees a drowned child. There is one car crash, in which the main character is severely injured.