Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Left Neglected

Author: Lisa Genova
Year: 2011
Publisher:  Gallery Books

I was listening to This is Audible a while back and heard them interviewing Lisa Genova about her new book, Left Neglected. I've got to be honest, I was only halfway listening to it when it dawned on me that they were talking about a condition that my dad had a/k/a left neglect. At that point, I rewound the show and listened to the entire interview with my full attention. In Left Neglected, Sarah Nickerson has it all. She's got a Harvard degree, a high paying job, a loving  husband and three beautiful children. One day while driving to work and making phone calls (something we're all guilty of), she looks away from the road and wrecks. The result is a traumatic brain injury that leaves her with left neglect. Basically, people with left neglect don't realize they have a left side. They will eat everything on the right side of their plate, put make up only on the right side of their face or dress only their right side. 

Lisa Genova did a wonderful job of conveying the condition. I can't count the number of times that I found myself laughing, or nodding or crying because she so accurately described scenes that have happened in my house while I'm caring for my dad. Also, the phrase "look left" is a constant mantra in our house. I felt like she really understood the condition and what it is like for someone to live with it. In one scene, Sarah's husband is telling her how simple it is to "look left" and she's trying to explain to him that to her there is no left. Sarah asks her husband to tell her everything he sees in the room and he does. Then, Sarah says:

"Okay, now what if I told you that everything you see is only half of everything that's really here? What if I told you to turn your head and look at the other half? Where would you look?"
I'm not positive that I particularly like her characters but the book gets an "A" just for the wonderful, and in my experience accurate, portrayal of left neglect. 


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