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Left Neglected - A Book Review

Updated on February 9, 2016

Left Neglected: by Lisa Genova

What is it like not being able to see the left side of your body? You can't use your left hand and your left leg doesn't move when you want it to. There is nothing wrong with your left arm, leg or foot. If you have injured the right side of your brain, that is exactly what you will experience. Left Neglected is the story of Sarah Nickerson, a powerful, in control supermom of three children who is in a car accident and injures the right side of her brain. Her accident transforms her fast-paced life from a world filled with cell phones, emails, texting, international business meetings and eighty-hour work weeks to being forced to slow down and considering what is most important in her life.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Left Neglected

Sarah and her husband, Bob share the same images for their lives - successful careers, a home in an upscale neighborhood, and a vacation home they can escape to. They are both very competitive and are convinced they can do and have it all. Work rules their lives. Their children are cared for by their nanny most of the day. Sarah and Bob make it home from work in time for desert and bedtime stories. They play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who will take the children to school and day-care - winner gets to go straight to work. When their oldest son is diagnosed with ADHD, they are devastated. They can't imagine how their child isn't "perfect".

On the way to work one day, Sarah is trying to get a head start on her work day and attempts to use her cell phone while driving. She is driving too fast and the road is slick. She can't stop in time to avoid the car ahead of her. Sarah wakes up in a hospital luckily alive but the right side of her brain has been severely injured. She has no connection to her left side. When she tries to see her left hand, it feels like she might as well be trying to see the back of her head. Getting dressed on her own is impossible. She can't see all the food on her plate, the left side of a paper and probably won't be going back to work anytime in the near future.

Eventually she is moved to a rehab facility where, with the help of her estranged mother and the support of her husband, she tries to get her life back. There is a poster in the rehab that fascinates Sarah. She sees a picture of a fist below the word Attitude. She interprets the poster to mean "power, strength, determination and fight. And attitude. A positive attitude." She works hard to see the left side of the world and use the left side of her body. Due to insurance guidelines, Sarah is forced to leave the rehab before she can fully function on her own. On her way out of the rehab, her brain sees something else in the poster. Eventually she sees it. The poster has a picture of two hands that are clasped together. And the word above the hands isn't Attitude. It's Gratitude. She sees that she had gotten it all wrong before.

This is the beginning of Sarah's new journey - to a new life and new beginnings

Check out more Book Reviews by Debra Lobel



Left Neglected
Left Neglected

Left Neglected is a neurological problem that affects people who have had a stroke or brain injury on the right side. The author, Lisa Genova, was trained in Neuroscience and has used her training to create this incredible novel. interviewed many people who had been diagnosed with left neglect as well as health care professionals. Their input has given her better insight into what it is like to live with this conditionand the struggles that people have to overcome.


Don't use your cell phone while driving!

Have you read the book? - How did it affect you?

My mother had a stroke and suffered from left neglect. It was amazing to me that she couldn't see anything on the left side of her world. One of the first things she wanted to do was to see the US Open Tennis Tournament on TV. We got her a TV by her bed. It was on her left side. She kept complaining she could only hear it but couldn't see it. We kept pointing to the TV, but she only got angry and didn't believe us. We moved it to the right and she could see part of it. The cables weren't long enough to allow us to move it all the way to the right. She also wanted a book, but couldn't read it. She could only see part of the book.

Left Neglected really helped explain what my mother was going through. I would have been more understanding as to what my mother was dealing with.

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Lisa Genova's official site - Lisa Genova is an amazing woman.

Lisa Genova uses her Neuroscience analytical background and her creativity to create to fascinating novels and has a third coming out soon. Her website gives her bio and a writer's notebook which is full insight of how she writes.

More books by Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova wrote another book called Still Alice . She also uses her experience as a neuroscientist to write about early onset Alzheimers. She has a new book coming out in 2013 called Love Anthony . It is about a mother who has a son with Autism.

Don't Leave Me This Way: Or When I Get Back on My Feet You'll Be Sorry
Don't Leave Me This Way: Or When I Get Back on My Feet You'll Be Sorry

An inspiring book about a 37-year old woman who had a massive, debilitating stroke that almost killed her. She defied the doctors and fought to regain her life. This author was interviewed by Lisa Genova when she was writing her book Left Neglected.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales

This is a compilation of Oliver Sack's case studies of neurological disorders.


Hear Lisa Genova in her own voice

Postscript of utmost importance

If you buy any of the books recommended above, this page automatically makes a donation to the incredible nonprofit, Donors Choose, which helps provide classrooms and students in need with resources that our public schools often lack.

© 2012 Debra Lobel


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