Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Review -- Left Neglected

Left Neglected

My enjoyment rating: 3 of 5 stars (possibly 2.5 out of 5)

Book source:  Public library

Sarah Nickerson has it all – a highly successful career, three beautiful children (named, crazily enough, after Peanuts characters – Charlie, Lucy & Linus), a house in the suburbs, a vacation home in Vermont, and an adoring husband. All of it comes crashing down with one single incident – trying to talk on her cell phone while driving. After suffering a terrifying car accident, and incurring a head injury, it is during her hospital recovery that Sarah discovers she can’t recognize anything to her LEFT – the left side of her body, the left side of a book, the left side of the room. Thus diagnosed with a neurological disorder called, “left neglect,” she must rebuild her life, but she will soon learn that all may not be “normal” again.

I’m going to have a hard time reviewing this book without comparing it to Ms. Genova’s first book, Still Alice. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book for awhile – and with such expectations and with such adoration of her first book, I suppose it was impossible for this book to measure up. And it didn’t.

For much of the story – told in first person – I felt like I was reading someone’s blog. Now, as bloggers, that’s not entirely bad – but this was a novel and I expected more – more tension, more struggle, more heart, more of everything. I never felt overly connected to Sarah and her family before, or especially, after her accident. Her treatment and therapy, which was integral to her recovery, seemed like child’s play. Her angst over whether she would ever return to work again seemed superficial. Her struggle to reconnect with her mother after a long and sustained absence, seemed clichéd. And her final therapy break through on the ski slopes of Vermont seemed way too easy.

Of course, Ms. Genova excels in writing about the scientific nuances of this disorder – her background as a PhD in neuroscience lends to a complete and total embrace of what happens to a person with left neglect – I just wish the story had measured up to her expertise.

So, I was terribly disappointed by this book. Which is why I am reluctant to read an author I REALLY like more than once – I hate when I compare their works against each other.

For other reviewers who liked it more than I did – please check out:

Julie at Knitting and Sundries
For more from the author about the condition of Left Neglect, please view the attached video:

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