Book Review: Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Left Neglected by Lisa GenovaAfter reading Still Alice by the same author, I was interested in her newest book, Left Neglected.

I did enjoy this book at least as much as Still Alice. Another woman with a serious problem. While in Still Alice the main character was suffering from Alzheimer, in Left Neglected it’s left neglect, a condition in which the patient does not see things on the left side of objects, although they are not aware that there is something missing.

I knew about this condition from my psychology degree which made it even more interesting to read the book.

Left Neglected: What it is about

Sarah Nickerson is a hard-working Human Resources manager. Hard working is an understatement given the amount of hours she puts in, and the little time she has available for her husband Bob and their three children, the youngest nine months old.

She fills up every spare moment with checking her email or making a quick phone call. One day in the car, she has an accident as she focuses more on her phone than the road in front of her. She has a head injury and turns out to have developed left neglect.

So, while she thinks she sees everything that’s around her, she doesn’t notice the food on the left side of her plate, people suddenly pop up in her field of vision (they turned out to have been on the left side of the room), and she draws only the right side of faces, thinking she drew the whole face.

In the book, which is partially a hospital story, she has to learn to live with her disability and work on diminishing its effects on her life. She slowly starts to wonder whether she will ever be able to get back in the fast lane of her life as a HR manager or whether she needs to find a new direction in her life.

Left Neglected: What I thought

I didn’t like Sarah to start with, and in the end, I liked her a bit. She wasn’t the most pleasant main character to spend time with, but her affliction and the story around her was very interesting and made for a very good read.

The book is written in the first person and at times, I forgot this was fiction and not a memoir. It was so real! Lisa Genova explains so well and illustrates so well what it’s like to live with left neglect (at least, I assume she does) that the book is completely believable.

The book is not only about Sarah and her illness, but also about the process her family has to go through to get back to some sort of normal life.

There was a side story of Sarah’s mother, whom she had not seen much of for years, and who hadn’t been a good mother when she was young. She now comes to help Sarah and her family at a time when they need her help a lot. Sarah has no choice but to accept the help, although she’d rather not and she discovers why her mother couldn’t be there for her when she was young. Her mother’s non-involvement with her as a child is also the explanation of the title.

I loved reading this easy-going book with some heavy topics.

Rating: 5/5

I got this book: got it in a book swap on Shelfari.com

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 327

First published: 2011

Genre: contemporary fiction

Extras: Review by Uniflame

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

28 Responses to Book Review: Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

  1. Uniflame says:

    I have this on hold at the library and I can’t wait to read it! I loved Still Alice and I am sure I will love this one too!

  2. Seems that we both loved this book. Like you I loved Still Alice as much as I did Left Neglected and I can’t wait to see what Genova might come up with next.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I can’t imagine she’ll pull off this trick a third time, Marleen. It’s just brilliant how real it sounds, as if she has these afflictions herself.

      • I think she could and might do it again. There must be a host of lesser known brain disorders she could use. And that is her area of expertise after all. We’ll see. She does write the stories as if she been through it all herself, which makes it very real so you’d have to wonder how often she can pull that off.

  3. Nadine Nys says:

    I,ve never heard of this condition before, Judith, but I think it most be awful… Looks like a really interesting read.

    • Leeswammes says:

      It’s a very interesting book, Nadine. I don’t know how often this condition occurs. You wouldn’t notice from just looking at someone, although they may have problems walking (since that left leg doesn’t exist for them).

  4. I have been meaning to read this one as I loved Still Alyce. Glad u loved this one.

  5. Suzanne says:

    My book club read Still Alice a few months ago and but for that I would never have picked it up, which is a shame because it is a wonderful book. I bought Left Neglected right away, and I hope to read it soon. Nice review.

  6. Trisha says:

    I have never heard of this condition. And I still haven’t read Still Alice. Bad me.

  7. This sounds really interesting, Judith. I have never heard of this condition but I am fascinated to learn more – maybe I should pick this book up.

  8. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I really want to read this one thanks for the review Judith!

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

  9. Cindy says:

    Oooh, I like the sound of this one🙂

  10. Chinoiseries says:

    Very interesting topic; I’d never heard of this affliction before. It requires an unique way to learn to see the world, I guess… sounds like an intriguing read!

    • Leeswammes says:

      It’s very strange, Chinioseries. Even just walking with one leg, and one that doesn’t exist, takes a lot of practice. And she learned to turn around her plate of food after eating “all” her food (on the right hand side) so she could eat the food that she hadn’t been able to see.

  11. I enjoyed this book, many women in the US (not sure about elsewhere) deal with the stressful life of Sarah. The message in the book is a good one.

    A very compelling story about something I wasn’t familiar with… left neglect.

    Loved it!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Glad you loved it too, Mari. The message was good, indeed. In UK books it’s often a hard-working woman ending up without a job and a man, then finding herself in a small town baking cakes falling in love with the farmer’s son. Same idea. But wait, that’s chick-lit. *Left Neglected* definitely isn’t.

  12. Marie says:

    Nice review! I also loved this book. I found the left neglect disorder so fascinating.

  13. Amy Reads says:

    Wow, this sounds terrifying…

  14. brenda says:

    i need food ideas for our book club> we try to theme the meal around the book.

  15. ivyoh says:

    Just finished this book! I liked Sarah a little more than you did probably, but did find her somewhat selfish. Still, I couldn’t put this book down! So happy to have discovered this author. Can I ask for opinions? Can anyone tell me their thoughts on why it appeared Sarah’s mom was taking more meds than necessary and what may have happened to her?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Ivyoh, good to hear you also enjoyed this book. I also liked Genova’s other book, Still Alice. She writes as if it’s really happening, so convincing. Unfortunately, it’s too long ago that I read the book, so I can’t answer your question.

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