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meganbaxter

meganbaxter

I'm a grad student, an avid reader, a huge nerd, fervent roleplayer, wife, cat lover, tea snob, and obsessive keeper of lists.
Left Neglected - Lisa Genova

This is only one step elevated from being what I call an "issue" book, as the characters seem to be slightly more than profiles taken from the textbooks devoted to the issue, given names and bodies, and little else. On the other hand, in order to emphasize most thoroughly the impact of the medical condition she's chosen to explore, Genova has given us a main character is who is almost unbearably annoying.

So I'm a bit ambivalent about this one, when it comes right down to it. Chalk this up as another in the long list of "it was okay."

The "issue" at hand is Left Neglected Syndrome, a condition that sometimes happens, says the author, (and I'm not spending the time fact-checking her,) after strokes or brain injuries, where the brain forgets that the left side exists. It's still there, and can be moved, with rehabilitation, but the brain forgets there ever was a left.

Sarah is a high-powered executive juggling three children, a marriage, and a job that eats all her time and then some. Naturally, she multitasks even when driving, and unsurprisingly, that means she gets into a car accident. She wakes up in a hospital, and has developed the above syndrome.

In a plot that seems entirely predictable, this former workaholic has to learn how to appreciate the little things, slow down, and accept that her life has changed. Because, presumably, we need conflict, she is the brattiest possible person about doing so. Throw in an estranged mother who Sarah rejects when she comes to help, and we have a paint by numbers book of the aftermath of a brain injury.

It feels like I'm being overly harsh on a book that, was, truly, not that bad. It's just not surprising or challenging, either. If you want to pretty much know what you're going to get by reading the flyleaf, this'll be fine. But there isn't anything deeper or more challenging than that. I'm glad that Sarah stopped being whiny and learned to celebrate the slower pace of a more difficult life. But is that it? Really?

Now I feel like I've just kicked a puppy, because after all, this is exactly what some people are looking for - unchallenging escapist fiction. And if that's your thing, this is a good crack at it. I'm not saying there isn't a place for that. But this isn't the escapist fiction I would choose, and while I didn't hate reading it, that main character was obnoxious enough to make it difficult to pick up sometimes.

If you love this author, please take this all with a grain of salt. The book is fine. It's just not my cup of tea.