Today’s post is written by Jeanne in Circulation.
Multitasking while driving seems to have become the norm for some people, including the main character in the novel, Left Neglected, by Lisa Genova. Sarah Nickerson is a Harvard-educated MBA who enjoys excelling at everything in life. She and her husband have three young children, named after Peanuts characters: Lucy, Charlie, and Linus. She works at least 80 hours a week for a consulting firm, has two mortgages, daycare, and private lessons for the children. Needless to say, Sarah and her husband lead a very expensive lifestyle in a rather expensive Massachusetts city and the two take pride in the life they’ve built and their busy careers.
During a normal commute into work, Sarah, while reaching for her cell phone, careens out of control and crashes her car seriously injuring herself. Suffering a traumatic brain injury, surgeons are forced to cut into her brain to relieve the swelling. Unfortunately, the right side of her brain is affected, causing a syndrome known as left-neglected. Sarah has no idea of the left side of anything. She does not know that the left side of her plate has chocolate, her favorite food. She thinks that her left arm and left leg have been amputated. It’s only through physical therapy that she is aware of her left side’s existence.
Now, faced with endless physical therapy, expiring insurance, and caring for their three children, Sarah’s mother is back in the picture. Long ago, when Sarah was younger, her brother drowned, devastating her mother, who essentially stopped all communication with Sarah. Sarah resents her mother’s return as it jeopardizes her dream of becoming “normal” once again and returning to her life. She is faced daily with the challenges of this syndrome, while trying to cope with her family and her mother.
Although it took a while to get involved in this story, I really got interested in her progress and needed to know how her situation would be resolved. I sympathized with Sarah during her recovery, including all of her frustration at performing life’s seemingly simple tasks. The next time I reach for my cell phone while driving, I’ll try to reconsider and let it go. I’ve never read Genova’s other book, Still Alice dealing with Alzheimer’s, but judging from the caliber of this story, I plan to do so soon.
Check the WRL catalog for Left Neglected
Or listen to Left Neglected on audio CD