Review: Left Neglected

If by any chance you’ve read ‘Still Alice’ and felt shocked, heartbroken or a bit of both, know that ‘Left Neglected’ is only going to further build on that.

As a specialist in neuroscience, Lisa Genova creates stories that rely heavily on a medical background. ‘Left Neglected’ is a story of success, connection, hope and adaptation, and I will review it as such, presenting the defining elements of each section.


Success: Sarah is a successful business woman, with a blooming career. Head of the HR department in a company with subsidiaries all around the world, she concentrates on her career more than anything else, often unwillingly neglecting her three children, her husband and her friends. One would not be mistaken to presume that, at least in the first part of the novel, her best friend is the laptop screen and her all-time companion is her phone.

Connection: Things change radically when, after a car accident, Sarah is diagnosed with ‘left neglect’ or ‘hemispatial neglect’, which in short translates into the fact that due to brain damage, she is no longer able to recognize anything that is on her left side (use her left hand or leg, see anything on the left side of her field of vision, eat the food on the left side of her plate). This is the stage of connection, because paradoxically, depending on her family helps her connect with her mother, redefine her relationship with her husband, care for her children, things that she had almost ignored before the accident.

Hope: Hope is a central theme in the novel. It shapes all of Sarah’s actions. From the moment she wakes up in hospital until the very end. She hopes to return to her old life. She craves to be powerful and independent again. A while later, she hopes that she can be a better mother and a better daughter. As she learns to live with her disability, she hopes that she can make the best of life as it is.

Adaptation: Adaptation is crucial when dealing with any type of change, and Sarah’s case is no different. She has to accept and embrace the fact that she needs help, that there are alternative ways of skiing, that there is a world outside her office, that her family can live with less money and more love. And that she is the one who has to give it.

Left Neglected’ is as much of a life changing experience for the reader as it is for the main character, as it helps us all understand that nothing can be taken for granted and that sometimes, less is more.

Recenzie scrisă de Răzvan Anton.

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