Conversations

Sarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children—Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month-old Linus. Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son’s teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it’s a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe.

 A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller. Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt.   

A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah relinquishes control to those around her, including her formerly absent mother. Without the ability to even floss her own teeth, she struggles to find answers about her past and her uncertain future. 

Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny—her new, true life—may in fact lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets. And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach, if only she slows down long enough to notice. (Quoted from book jacket)

 

Maxine's Review of Left neglected by Lisa Genova

I cautiously read Still Alice, a truthful and respectful account of Alzheimer’s.  When a book affects you as much as this one did, you look deeper into the real story, Alice and less about the debilitating theme, Alzheimer’s.  Lisa Genova’s writing style is empathetic as she faithfully leads us down a neurological experience that will touch on strong emotions for many of us.  The author accomplished this again with her second book, Left Neglected. 

The foundation of the book focuses on a hard working family stressed to meet expectations while ‘keeping up with the Jones’.  Life in the fast lane often has its consequences. 

Sarah and Bob Nickerson have it all, three beautiful children, a house in a desirable neighborhood, a caring nanny, vacation home and enviable jobs. Perhaps the only thing lacking from their life is sleep and supper.  Sarah particularly struggles to find a balance.  She is so busy with life that she forgets to live it. 

This existence comes crashing down instantly when Sarah reaches for her cell phone to make an important call while maneuvering the morning rush hour.

The story now shifts gear and focuses on the family’s life after the accident that caused a brain injury.  Not only does Sarah have to slow down, she has to force herself to concentrate on that which surrounds her.  She has been broadsided by this injury and must find a way to recreate a life with left neglect. 

Eager to return to her old life she fights hard to heal all the while accepting no other reality.  With the aid of a loving husband, a once absent mother and the honesty of motherhood, Sarah is forced to come to terms with her new reality.  Will her old life become a write off?  

Every so often it is good to take a book off your shelf the encourages us all to slow down and smell the roses. The demands of work and family are compounded by our need to feel connected both figuratively and literally. Genova certainly gets this point across.  I felt the author gave us a 'Hollywood' ending where "they all live happily ever after" but we know that may not always be the case.  

Maxine's Boutique Rating: 7.8/10

Stella’s thoughts…

Left Neglected was a fine read. I liked the book but didn’t love it. The topic didn't entertain me as much as it made me think about life. My thoughts are summed up as follows. Life is full of two types of situations.  First the events we have no control over, let’s face it, things happen and the consequences can be good or they can be tragic. Second are the events of life where we can choose. These are the ones were we can assist in the writing of the outcome, which can be good or tragic as well. The thing about life, there isn’t a rewind button and some things just can't be undone. 
This is a novel that is true to life, well for some peoples lives. The rushing to drop the kids off at before school care and then racing through traffic to make the eight am meeting. Playing rock-paper-scissors with your spouse to settle who drives the kids on the fifth day of the week, calling into a meeting from the sidelines of the soccer field or relying on the nanny to be the one cheering from the side lines.  Is this life really living? This is more like being held hostage by life. Sarah created a life that in the long term she would not be able to maintain, disaster was bound to happen. 
In the first few pages of the book it became clear that I am not a fan of pre-accident Sarah. Her selfish, destructive, tunnel-vision focus on her career repeatedly put herself and her children into dangerous situations. Micromanaging her family along side an extremely demanding career and the children being the ones to suffer from this demanding employer. Post-accident Sarah I didn’t particularly like either but I did like witnessing her evolution as a character. She was fortunate to have good people supporting her and sharing encouraging words of wisdom. The drive she had with her career carried over into her recovery and became an asset.
My favourite characters are Helen and Charley.  Helen because of her, without putting it into words, apologizing for how she mothered Sarah after the loss of Nate. She was so wrapped up in her grief that she forgot about her daughter. When the time presented itself to be a mother to Sarah, without a moments hesitation, Helen assumed her role and took over the running of the household and caring for the children. I loved the resulting evolution of the mother-daughter relationship. Helen and Sarah healed their past and moved to a place of love and understanding. Charley was the perfect compliment and healer for Sarah. Her needs in many ways matched his. The skills Sarah learned in her own recovery enabling her to make the changes to Charley’s learning that were necessary for him to be successful. 
I only ‘liked’ Left Neglected and I tried to focus my review on the positive aspects that connected to me. When given the opportunity, make good choices, slow down and take time to enjoy love ones. I only read this novel because it was my a book club’s selection and its a title Maxine wanted to highlight in The Boutique. It makes the reader think and brings about great discussion. I like that Ms. Genova is using the forum of fiction to get across the dangers of texting and driving. Sarah was lucky, in the real world this is not always so. 

Stella's Boutique Rating: 6.2/10

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