Wife, mother, and hyper-driven, multitasking Sarah Nickerson, a 37-year-old Harvard Business School grad, is so controlled she limits her crying to five minutes twice a month behind her office desk. She travels to China on business, and still signs permission slips on time. Left Neglected, by Lisa Genova, discerningly chronicles Sarah both before and after a devastating brain injury blots out the left side of her world. Actor Sarah Paulson, always an incandescent force, narrates here with such disarming openness that Left Neglected superficially about a preppy modern mommy of three finding grace through catastrophe gathers enough texture to unfold a richly moving rebirth.
Left Neglected is easy to latch onto, largely because Paulson projects Sarah Nickerson as endearingly insecure and goofy. By pebbling her pre-car crash, pre-head trauma Sarah voice with urgency and strain, Paulson revs up pacing to mirror the choking rhythms of her character’s hurried schedule. Yet the recovering Sarah is looser and less uncensored as Paulson unknots her anxious cadences in a gradual fade. We relax around this Sarah who cracks pun-laced jokes with her rehab therapists and grieves as deeply for the skinny jeans she can no longer button at the waist, as having to relearn using the bathroom alone.
While Left Neglected is Sarah’s story, Paulson astutely rescues the ensemble players Sarah’s jittery, apologetic mother Helen, and her innately decent husband Bob from the fringes. She pitches Bob as honorable and magnetic in his own right, a cool guy whose empathy eventually collapses into panicked resentment as Sarah’s lost income capsizes the family finances. Helen, on the other hand, begs to be Sarah’s rock, atoning for her indifference the last 30 years. “My life can be fully lived with less,” Sarah observes, well into her healing journey. And for us, too, this reclaimed state of blessedness feels lasting and true. Nita Rao
Sarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children—Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month-old Linus.
Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son’s teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it’s a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe.
A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller. Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt.
A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah relinquishes control to those around her, including her formerly absent mother. Without the ability to even floss her own teeth, she struggles to find answers about her past and her uncertain future.
Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny—her new, true life—may in fact lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets. And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach, if only she slows down long enough to notice.
©2011 Lisa Genova (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
"Imagine your too busy, over scheduled, Type A life coming to a screeching halt. That is what happens in Lisa Genova's timely new novel, Left Neglected. As her protagonist, Sarah Nickerson, works her way through a devastating brain injury and back into that hectic life, she is forced to re-evaluate what really matters. I dare any reader to not do the same in their own lives after reading this book." (Ann Hood)
"Devastating and hopeful, haunting and familiar, Left Neglected is a triumph of insight and empathy." (Stefan Merrill Block, international best-selling author of The Story of Forgetting and The Storm at the Door)
“Once again, Lisa Genova goes where few authors dare, and mines a compelling and beautifully written story about finding peace, wisdom and human connection. While Sarah Nickerson’s condition is rare, her journey is universal. “ (Lynn Kiele Bonasia, author of Summer Shift)
Another great book from Lisa Genova, how she gets into these people's minds is just amazing. And how awful it would be to think you have no left side and there is no world on your left, heartbreaking and fascinating all at the same time.
Lisa Genova is an amazing writer because she takes you into the inner workings of a broken mind and makes you understand what they are feeling and going through.
The struggles Sarah goes through I can’t even imagine because who could imagine having left neglect, but you feel for her and struggle with her and cry with her and cheer for her. One thing I liked better in this one than Still Alice was Sarah had a supportive husband, Bob wasn’t perfect but he was there for her through it all. Also to see the relationship with Sarah and her estranged mother develop into what it did was very touching.
I enjoyed this book very much as I said it was fascinating to learn about this kind of brain injury.
The audio was well done. I enjoyed the way in which Sarah Paulson was able to translate the feelings/state of mind of the main character throughout the story. Left Neglected is interesting and unique. This story reminded me to focus on the important things in life: loved ones and my own happiness. It is well worth a listen.
Love Reading. Especially Audible!
Left Neglected is probably the most enjoyable book I've listened to on Audible.com. I highly recommend this audible book to anyone who loves a "bring you up" story that makes you feel good after you've read it.
The characters seem very real, not exotic, but like people we might know in our own lives.
I really enjoyed listening to her. Her voice is easy to listen to and she made the main character seem believable. I think one of the main reasons I choose Left Neglected to listen to on Audible was the way Sarah Paulson's narration was so captivating and so pleasing to the ear. I would love to listen to another book she narrates.
I felt that this was a story of a strong and very determined woman, a person who has much feeling and also who learns to "stop and smell the roses" while experiencing a very serious crisis in her life. My heart felt good after listening to it.
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
Left Neglected is a very interesting story, told well. I wish the characters had been developed just a bit better, especially Sarah's husband, Bob. He played a large role in the book, but I don't think his thoughts and feelings were often very clear to me. He often seemed just too good to be true. I really like the way Lisa Genova writes about neuroscience, delivered in a fiction format. Still Alice is one of my favorite books of all time, and while I didn't enjoy Left Neglected quite as much, it was still a very enjoyable read.
This is nothing like "Still Alice" - no matter how many PhD's you have you can't just pick an obscure syndrome and turn it into a relatable, emotionally affecting story. Few diseases are as frightening as Alzheimer's so "Left Neglected" has a hard act to follow. If Genova does not actually have EOAD and managed to write as intimately about it as she did in "Still Alice" you'd think she'd be up to the task of selecting some other more relatable disease around which to wrap her imagination.
The story takes forever with its initial laundry list of the perfect life, and the narrator has a lisp.
Greedy, voracious reader since age five. After a number of eye injuries & surgeries, reading is hard. So now, I listen.
I am so tired of hearing about 'high-powered' 'over-achievers' and their 'charmed lives' and their over-scheduled kids and their expensive designer everything; I'm not envious, or interested, I'm just bored. But if you can overlook that construct, which the author uses so that her brain-injured heroine can learn what is 'truly important' in life, this book is a fascinating look at a really weird phenomenon, 'left neglect', in which an injury to the right brain leaves one unaware that 'left' exists; the left of the room, the left of the page, the left of the body, the left of anything. Weird! And it seems like the author could not have done a better job of describing the frustrations of this affliction if she did, indeed, suffer from it herself. It is really interesting to follow this woman's road to recovery. And the reader was excellent.
Tell us about yourself!
This was a humorous book for a serious topic. I liked it almost as much as Still Alice. The narrator was so great and really made the characters enjoyable.
About a 6-7
Well of course, the main character, but I did love her husband's loyalty and her mother stepping in
Yes, Still Alice, which was outstanding
Well she does make me cry with her deep thoughts and character development, but laughing is always a part of her writing.
Her characters are so well developed, and her narrative is excellent. Comparing the son's struggles to the mother's was most touching.
Lisa Genova writes with remarkable insight about what it's like to sustain and then live with a traumatic brain injury. This is a good solid story, pleasantly read.
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