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Left Neglected

Left Neglected

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Left Neglected

valoraciones:
4.5/5 (166 valoraciones)
Longitud:
402 página
6 horas
Editorial:
Publicado:
Jan 4, 2011
ISBN:
9781439164679
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Written by Scribd Editors

Sarah Nickerson's carefully planned life is thrown into chaos when she glances away from the road for one second too long. A distracting cell phone leads to a devastating car crash that steals this vibrant, 30-something-year-old mother's ability to comprehend anything on her left side. Instead, she's left with a hole of awareness, and she must retrain her mind to see a whole world once again.

Left Neglected, a New York Times bestselling novel from Lisa Genova, explores what happens when we are forced to change our perception of everything around us. Poignant, resilient, and powerful, this unforgettable story zeroes in on the details of life when it teaches Sarah how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter most.

With deeply captivating characters and a heartrending story, Genova forces readers to confront what parts of their lives they're nourishing and what parts are left neglected.

Editorial:
Publicado:
Jan 4, 2011
ISBN:
9781439164679
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Acclaimed as the Oliver Sacks of fiction and the Michael Crichton of brain science, Lisa Genova is the New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice, Left Neglected, Love Anthony, Inside the O’Briens, and Remember. Still Alice was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, and Kristen Stewart. Lisa graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in biopsychology and holds a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University. She travels worldwide speaking about the neurological diseases she writes about and has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, Today, PBS NewsHour, CNN, and NPR. Her TED talk, What You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer's, has been viewed over 2 million times.  


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Left Neglected - Lisa Genova

head.

CHAPTER 1

Survivors, ready?"

Jeff, the distractingly handsome host of the reality television game show, smiles, stretching out the wait, knowing he’s making us crazy.

Go!

I am running through rain forest. Bugs are colliding with my face as I race. I’m a human windshield. The bugs are grossing me out.

Ignore them. Hurry.

Sharp branches are smacking and slicing my face, wrists, and ankles, cutting me. I’m bleeding. It stings.

Ignore it. Hurry.

A branch snags my favorite, most expensive silk blouse and rips it from shoulder to elbow.

Great, I can’t wear this to my morning meeting. Fix it later. Hurry. Hurry.

I reach the beach and see the planks of driftwood. I’m supposed to make a raft. But I don’t see any tools. I swat around in the sand with my hands. I can’t find any tools. Then I remember the map that Jeff showed us for a second before lighting it on fire. He grinned as it burned. Easy for him to be so happy with his belly full of food and his April-fresh clothes. I haven’t eaten or showered in days.

Mom, I need help, Charlie whines at my waist. He’s not supposed to be here.

Not now, Charlie, I have to find a red flag and a set of tools.

Mom, Mom, Mom! he insists. He pulls down on my ripped sleeve and tears it clean through the cuff.

Great, now it’s definitely ruined. And I don’t think I’m going to have time to change before work.

I spot a red blur above the flat beach about a hundred yards away. I run toward it, and Charlie follows, begging desperately, Mom, Mom, Mom!

I look down and see shiny pieces of green and brown everywhere. Glass. Not sea glass. New glass, jagged and sharp. Shattered bottles cover the beach.

Charlie, stop! Don’t follow me!

I’m doing a good job avoiding the glass while I run, but then I hear Charlie losing it and Jeff laughing, and I misstep. A piece of green glass carves deep into the arch of my left foot. It kills and is bleeding a lot.

Ignore it. Hurry.

I reach the red flag. Gnats are swarming in and out of my nostrils, mouth, and ears, making me spit and gag. Not the kind of protein I’ve been craving. I cover my face with the palms of my hands, hold my breath, and pace out twelve steps west of the red flag.

I dig with my hands amid a frenzy of gnats, find the box of tools, and hobble back to the planks of driftwood. Charlie is there, squatting, building a castle out of broken glass.

Charlie, stop that. You’ll cut yourself.

But he doesn’t listen and continues.

Ignore him. Hurry.

I’m about halfway through assembling the raft when I hear the wolves howling.

Louder. Louder.

Hurry!

The half raft isn’t strong enough to hold both of us. Charlie screams as I pick him up, ripping him from his glass castle. He kicks and punches me as I wrestle him onto the half raft.

When you get to the other side, go get help.

Mommy, don’t leave me!

It’s not safe here. You have to go!

I push the half raft out onto the water, and the strong current grabs it. Just as Charlie floats out of sight, the wolves start tearing through my trousers and my favorite shirt, ripping my skin apart, eating me alive. Jeff is smiling as I’m dying, and I think, Why did I ever want to play this stupid game?

My human alarm clock, my nine-month-old son, Linus, wakes me with a bleating Baaabaaa! over the monitor before I die.

FRIDAY

The actual alarm clock reads 5:06, about an hour before the time I set it for. Resigned to getting up now, I click the alarm mode to Off. I honestly can’t remember the last time I woke to the sound of bomp, bomp, bomp, instead of to the stirrings of one of my three kids. And the snooze feature is an even more distant memory. Mornings of bargaining for brief but luxurious extensions in bed. Just nine more minutes, and I won’t shave my legs. Nine more minutes, I’ll skip breakfast. Nine more minutes, morning sex. I haven’t touched that button in a long, long time. Well, Charlie is seven, so it has to be about seven years. It seems like forever. I only bother to set the alarm clock every night now because I know, I just know, that the one time I don’t, the one time I decide to rely on my little cherubs to wake me, it’ll be the morning I have some critical deadline or a flight I can’t miss, and they’ll all sleep in for the very first time.

I stand and look down at Bob, his eyes shut, face slack, mouth open, splayed on his back.

Possum, I say.

I’m awake, he says, his eyes still shut. He’s asking for you.

He’s saying ‘baba,’ not ‘Mama.’

You want me to get him?

I’m up.

I pad barefoot on the cold hardwood floor down the hallway to Linus’s bedroom. I open the door to see him standing at the bars of his crib, sucking his nukie, ratty blanket in one hand, beloved and even rattier Bunny in the other. His whole face smiles when he sees me, which makes me smile, and he starts banging on the rail. He looks like an adorable baby prison inmate, all packed and ready on his last day in jail, awaiting his release.

I pick him up and carry him over to the changing table, where his good mood collapses into a betrayed wail. He arches his back and twists onto his side, fighting with everything he’s got against what happens five to six times a day, every day. I’ll never understand why he so vehemently hates getting his diaper changed.

Linus, stop it.

I have to use an unsettling amount of force to pin him down and muscle him into a new diaper and clothes. I try a few belly blasts and singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to snap him out of it, but he remains my uncooperative adversary throughout the entire process. The changing table sits next to the only window in his room, which is sometimes useful for distractions. See the birdie! But it is still dark out, and even the birds aren’t up yet. It’s still nighttime, for God’s sake.

Linus doesn’t sleep through the night. Last night, I rocked him back to sleep after he woke screaming at one, and Bob went in a little after three. At nine months, Linus isn’t talking yet, only baba-mama-dada-ing. So we can’t interview him to find out what the problem is, and we can’t reason with him or bribe him. Every night it’s a guessing game that Bob and I don’t feel like playing, and we never win.

Do you think he’s teething? Should we give him Tylenol? We can’t just drug him every night. Maybe he has an ear infection. I saw him tugging at his ear earlier. He always tugs at his ear. Did he lose his nukie? Maybe he had a nightmare. Maybe it’s separation. Should we bring him into bed with us? We don’t really want to put that on the menu, do we? What did we do with the other two? I can’t remember.

Every now and then, motivated by desperate exhaustion, we’ll resolve to ignore him. Tonight we’re going to let him cry it out. But little Linus has remarkable stamina and lungs that won’t quit. Once he sets his mind to doing something, he commits 100 percent, which is a trait I think will serve him well in life, so I’m not fully convinced we should beat it out of him. Typically, he’ll cry for more than an hour, during which time Bob and I will lie awake, not so much ignoring the crying as we are listening to it, focusing on it, searching for subtle changes in the pitch or rhythm that might indicate the end is near, finding no such thing.

One of the other two, usually Lucy, will eventually knock on the door and come in.

Linus is crying.

We know, sweetie.

Can I have a drink of milk?

Now I’m up with Lucy fetching milk, and Bob is up settling Linus. Plan aborted. Baby wins. Score: Harvard MBA-trained parents, both highly skilled in negotiation and leadership: 0. Nine-month-old child with no formal education or experience on the planet: too many times for my weary brain to count.

Once dressed and picked up off the dreaded changing table, Linus is instantly righted. No hard feelings, no grudges, just living in the moment. I give my little Buddha a kiss and a squeeze and carry him downstairs. Charlie and Lucy are already up. I can hear Lucy moving around in her bedroom, and Charlie is lying in one of the beanbag chairs in the living room watching SpongeBob.

Charlie, it’s too early for TV. Shut it off.

But he’s completely entranced and doesn’t hear me. At least, I hope he doesn’t hear me and isn’t deliberately blowing me off.

Lucy comes out of her bedroom dressed like a lunatic.

How do you like my fashion, Mom?

She’s wearing a pink and white polka-dot vest layered over an orange long-sleeve shirt, velvet leopard print leggings under a sheer pink ballerina tutu, Ugg boots, and six clips secured randomly in her hair, all different colors.

You look fabulous, honey.

I’m hungry.

Come with me.

We walk into the kitchen, and Lucy climbs up onto one of the bar stools at the kitchen island counter. I pour two bowls of Lucky Charms, one for Lucy and one for Charlie, and a bottle of Similac for Linus.

Yes, my children are Peanuts characters. Charlie, seven, and Lucy, five, were given their names without thought or reference to the comic strip. Charlie was named after Bob’s father, and we both just liked the name Lucy. Then, when I was unexpectedly expecting again, years after we’d donated or eBayed every piece of baby equipment, years after we’d celebrated the end of diapers and strollers and Barney, we had to come up with yet another name and were stumped.

I’d go with Schroeder, a work colleague offered.

No, definitely Linus. Or Woodstock, said another.

It was only then that I realized the pattern we’d started with our first two kids. And I liked the name Linus.

I feed Linus his bottle as I watch Lucy eat all of the colored marshmallows, the charm, first.

Charlie, come! Your cereal’s getting soggy!

Lucy eats two more spoonfuls of charm.

Charlie!

Okay, okay.

Charlie drags himself onto the bar stool next to Lucy and looks down at his bowl as if it’s the worst homework assignment ever.

I’m tired, he says.

Then why are you up? Go back to bed.

Okay, he says and walks back upstairs to his bedroom.

Lucy drinks the milk from her bowl, wipes her mouth with her sleeve, hops down, and takes off without a word. In a hurry to be free like his sister, Linus drains his bottle and burps without any assistance. I release him onto the floor, which is cluttered with toys and crushed pieces of Goldfish crackers. I grab a ball and toss it into the living room.

Go get it!

Thrilled to be in on a game, he crawls after it like a playful puppy.

Alone for at least a moment, I eat Charlie’s untouched, soggy cereal because someone should, then I clear all the dishes to the sink, wipe down the counter, put on a pot of coffee, pack lunch boxes and snacks for Charlie and Lucy, and pack the diaper bag for Linus. I sign a permission slip for Lucy to go to Plimoth Plantation. Next to the question, Will you be able to chaperone? I check No. In Charlie’s backpack, I find a note from his teacher:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Nickerson,

Report cards went out last week, and I’m hoping that you’ve had some time now to look it over. I’d like to schedule a time to talk with both of you in person about Charlie. Please give me a call at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Ms. Gavin

Charlie’s report card is not what every parent dreams of for her child, especially when that parent always, always received perfect report cards herself. Bob and I knew there would be issues, room for improvement with things like reading and paying attention. Last year prepared us a little. But in kindergarten, Charlie’s below-average marks in a few categories were brushed off by both his teacher and Bob. He’s a boy! He’ll be used to sitting still and to the long day by the time he’s in first grade. I see it every year. Don’t worry.

Well, he’s in first grade now, and I’m worried. He scored either an N for Needs improvement or a 3 for Below expectations in most of the categories. Even Bob’s face blanched when he read down the column of 3’s and N’s. Whatever is going on with Charlie, a sweeping generalization about his gender isn’t going to cover it this time. What’s wrong with him?

The Lucky Charms are making me feel ill. I shouldn’t have eaten all that sugar. I open my laptop on the counter next to the coffeemaker and check email while standing and waiting for the caffeine my addicted brain needs. I have sixty-four new emails. I was up until midnight last night clearing my inbox, so these all came in the last five hours. Several are from offices on the West Coast, sent late last night. At least two dozen are from offices in Asia and Europe, already well into today’s workday. A couple of emails marked urgent are from a young and panicky analyst in the Boston office.

I become absorbed in reading and replying for too long without interruption. My ears tune in and hear nothing. Where are they?

Lucy? Linus?

Only the beanbags are watching SpongeBob in the living room. I bomb up the stairs and into Lucy’s room. They’re both there, which means that Lucy forgot to latch the gate at the bottom of the stairs, and Linus crawled all the way up by himself. Thank God he didn’t try to climb back down because his preferred method right now is headfirst. But before I can thank God for keeping him in one piece, before I knock on the wood floor for even thinking of what could’ve happened, and before I can thoroughly chastise Lucy for not latching the gate, all of my senses heighten and narrow in on Linus. He’s sitting on the floor, not investigating anything, with his mouth suspiciously shut. Lucy is a few feet away on the floor making bead jewelry. There are beads all over the floor.

Linus!

I grab the back of his head with my left hand and swipe inside his mouth with my right index finger. He resists, whipping his head side to side and clamping his mouth shut harder.

Linus, open! What do you have in there?

I feel it. I waggle my finger and scoop out a bubblegum-pink plastic bead, about the size of a cranberry. Violated and robbed and completely unaware that his life was in danger, Linus howls. Bob is now standing in the doorway, showered, dressed, and concerned.

What happened? he asks.

He was just about to choke on this.

I display the murderous bead in the palm of my hand.

Nah, too small. He’s okay.

Still, there are plenty of bigger beads strewn on the floor around Lucy, plus some coins, hair elastics, a Super Ball. Lucy’s room is a death trap. What if he’d decided to suck on a quarter? What if one of the larger orange beads had looked particularly tasty to him? What if I’d gotten here too late? What if Linus were lying on the floor, not breathing, lips blue?

If Bob could read my mind, which he probably could, he’d tell me not to go there. He’d tell me to stop imagining the worst and to relax. Everyone’s fine. All kids put things in their mouths that they shouldn’t. They eat paint chips and crayons and swallow dirt and pebbles and all kinds of things we don’t even know about. They even climb stairs unattended. Kids are tough, he’d say. They survive.

But I know differently. I don’t have to imagine the worst to go there. I can remember it. Sometimes kids survive. And sometimes they don’t.

Being the highly superstitious, God-fearing, slightly obsessive-compulsive, type A perfectionist that I am, with the bead in my fist, I knock on the wooden bedpost, thank God for keeping him safe, and blame his sister.

Lucy, this room is a disaster. You need to pick up all of these beads.

But I’m making a necklace, she whines.

Here, I’ll help you, Goose, says Bob, now on his knees and gathering beads. Why don’t you pick out one of your already-made necklaces for today? Then you can come downstairs with me and Linus.

Charlie hasn’t dressed or eaten yet, I say, agreeing to the routine, passing the parenting baton over to Bob.

AFTER A QUICK SHOWER, I stand naked in front of the full-length mirror in the bedroom and assess myself as I slather Lubriderm over my arms and legs.

N, Needs improvement.

I’m still about fifteen pounds over my pre-Linus weight, which was, if I have to be honest, ten pounds over my pre-Charlie weight. I grab a handful of the loose and puckered bread dough that used to be my taut belly and trace the rust-colored line that runs unfaded from a few inches above my belly button down to my pubic hair. I continue down to the pads of flesh cushioning my hip bones, which migrated sideways to make room for Linus, my biggest baby, leaving me with wider hips and a drawer full of pants that won’t button.

The gym I belong to could more accurately be called my favorite charity. I never go. I really should cancel my membership instead of essentially donating a hundred dollars to them every month. There’s also the gym equipment in the basement, positioned like statues, collecting dust: the elliptical machine, the Bowflex, and the rower Bob bought me for Christmas when I was eight months pregnant (was he insane?). I pass these hulking pieces of equipment every time I do the laundry, which with three kids, is often. I always walk by them at a quick clip, without looking at them, as if we’ve had some sort of emotionally charged fight, and I’m giving them the cold shoulder. It works. They never bother me.

I rub the remaining Lubriderm into my hands.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, I think, knowing that is my tendency.

Linus is only nine months old. The phrase nine months up, nine months down from The Girlfriends’ Guide to Getting Your Groove Back pops into my head. The author assumes I have time for things like manicures and shopping and trunk shows and that I have made my groove a priority. It’s not that I don’t want my groove back. It’s on my list. It’s just unfortunately way at the bottom where I can barely see it.

Before I get dressed, I pause for one last appraisal. My fair skin is covered with freckles, courtesy of my Scottish mother. When I was a girl, I used to connect the dots with a pen to create constellations and tattoos. My favorite used to be the perfect five-point star my freckles outline on my left thigh. But that was back in the ’80s, before I knew about sunscreen, back when I and all of my friends toted bottles of baby oil with us to the beach, quite literally sautéing ourselves in the sun. Now every doctor and the media are all saying that my freckles are age spots and signs of sun damage.

I hide most of the damage with a white camisole and my black Elie Tahari power suit. In all the right ways, I feel like a man in this suit. Perfect for the kind of day I’m facing. I towel dry my hair and work an emulsified gob of Shine-and-Hold into it. Auburn and thick and wavy to my shoulders, there is nothing masculine about my hair. I may be fat and freckled and dressed like a man, but I love my pretty hair.

After a perfunctory application of foundation, blush, eyeliner, and mascara, I head downstairs and reenter the fray. Lucy is now planted in one of the beanbag chairs singing along with Dora the Explorer, and Linus is penned in the Pack ’n Play next to her, sucking on the head of a plastic school bus driver. In the kitchen, Bob sits alone at the table, drinking coffee from his Harvard mug and reading the Wall Street Journal.

Where’s Charlie? I ask.

Getting dressed.

Did he eat?

Cereal and juice.

How does he do it? Bob in Charge of All Three Kids is an entirely different show than Sarah in Charge of All Three Kids. With Bob, they’re happily willing to be independent little task-masters, content to leave him in peace until he comes to them with an offer of a new activity. With me, I have all the magnetism of a favorite rock star without the bodyguards. They’re on me. A typical example: Linus is under my feet, whining, begging to be picked up, while Lucy hollers, Mom, I need help! from another room, while Charlie asks me forty-seven hundred relentless questions about what happens to trash.

I grab my coffee mug and sit opposite Bob for our morning meeting. I take a sip. It’s cold. Whatever.

Did you see the note from Charlie’s teacher? I ask.

No, what?

His teacher wants to talk to us about his report card.

Good, I want to know what’s going on.

He reaches into his messenger bag and pulls out his iPhone.

You think she can meet with us before school? he asks.

I grab my laptop off the counter and sit back down.

I could do early on Wednesday and Friday, possibly Thursday if I move something, I say.

I can do Thursday. You have her email?

Yup.

I shoot an email to Ms. Gavin.

You going to his game today? he asks.

No, are you?

I probably won’t be back in time, remember?

Oh, yeah. I can’t, my day’s packed.

Okay. I just wish one of us could be there to see him.

Me, too, honey.

I believe he’s being entirely sincere, but I can’t help taking his words I just wish one of us and translating them in my brain into I think you. And while the gears of my internal language interpreter are greased, it transforms could to should. The majority of women in Welmont with children Charlie’s age never miss a soccer game and don’t earn special good mother status for being there. This is simply what good mothers do. These same mothers herald it an exceptional event if any of the dads leave the office early to catch a game. The fathers cheering on the sidelines are upheld as great dads. Fathers who miss the games are working. Mothers who miss the games, like me, are bad mothers.

A standard dose of maternal guilt sinks to the bottom of the cold coffee and Lucky Charms soup in my stomach. Not exactly the Breakfast of Champions.

Abby can stay and watch him, I say, reassuring myself.

Abby is our nanny. She started working for us when Charlie was twelve weeks old, when my maternity leave ended. We were beyond lucky to get her when we did. Abby was twenty-two then, right out of college with a degree in psychology, and lived just ten minutes away in Newton. She’s smart, conscientious, has tons of energy, and loves our kids.

Before Charlie and Lucy were old enough for preschool, Abby watched them from 7:30 in the morning until 6:30 at night, Monday through Friday. She changed their diapers, rocked them to sleep, read them stories, wiped their tears, taught them games and songs, bathed and fed them. She grocery shopped and cleaned the house. She became an essential member of our family. I can’t imagine our life without her. In fact, if I had to choose between keeping Bob and keeping Abby, there have been times when it would’ve been difficult to pick Bob.

This past spring, Abby told us the unthinkable. She would be leaving us to attend Boston College for her master’s in childhood education. We were stunned and panicked. We couldn’t lose her. So we negotiated a deal. With Charlie and Lucy already in school for seven hours a day, we were willing to put Linus in day care in September for the same hours. That would mean we’d need her only from 3:00 to 6:30, and we’d pay for part of her tuition.

Sure, we could’ve combed through Craigslist and found someone who would probably be good and would definitely be cheaper. Or we could’ve hired someone through a find-a-nanny agency. But Abby already knows our kids. She knows their routines, their moods, their favorite things. She knows how to handle Charlie’s inquisitions, Lucy’s tantrums, and she knows to never, never forget to bring Bunny wherever Linus goes. And she already loves them. How much is too much to pay for knowing without any doubt that your kids are well loved when you can’t be there?

Charlie gallops into the kitchen, out of breath.

Where are my Pokémon cards?

Charlie, you’re still in your pajamas. Forget about Pokémon. Go get dressed, I say.

But I need my Pokémon cards.

Pants, shirt, shoes, and shut off your light, I say.

Charlie throws his head back in frustration but surrenders and barrels back upstairs to his room.

Any house stuff? Bob asks.

Will you call the garage door guy this time?

Yup, he’s on my list.

Our automatic door opener is one of the newer models, and it has a seeing-eye sensor that prevents it from closing if it observes something under the door, like a small child. It’s a great safety feature in theory, but it only seems to drive us crazy. One of the kids, and we suspect Charlie, keeps knocking into the eye on the right side so it’s not level with and can’t see the left side. And when it gets cross-eyed, it won’t work at all.

When we were kids, my brother Nate and I used to play Indiana Jones with our automatic garage door. One of us would hit the button on the remote, and then we would see who had the guts to wait the longest before running and rolling under the closing door. No safety features in those days. That garage door opener operated completely blind. It would’ve taken all the fun out of the game if the risk of getting crushed to death, or at least painfully squished, had been removed. Nate was great at it, diving and rolling at the last possible second. God, I still miss him.

Charlie tears into the kitchen wearing a tee-shirt, shorts, and no shoes.

Mom, what if the earth runs out of gravity?

What did I tell you to put on?

No answer.

It’s November, you need pants and a long-sleeve shirt and shoes, I say.

I check my watch. 7:15. He’s still standing there, I think waiting for an answer about gravity.

Go!

Come on, kiddo, let’s find something better, says Bob, and they walk off together.

I wrangle the other two kids into hats and coats, send out a few more emails, buckle Linus into his bucket car seat, listen to my work voicemail, pack my own bag, leave a note for Abby about the soccer game, down the rest of the cold coffee, and finally meet Bob and a suitably dressed Charlie at the front door.

Ready? asks Bob, facing me.

We both cock our fists back into position.

Ready.

Today is Friday. Bob drops the kids at school and day care on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I take them on Mondays and Wednesdays. Fridays are up for grabs. Unless one of us makes an indisputable case for needing to get to work before school starts, we shoot for it. Scissors cut paper. Paper covers rock. Rock smashes scissors. We both take the shoot very seriously. Winning is huge. Driving straight to work with no kids in the car is heaven.

One, two, threeeee, shoot!

Bob hammers his closed fist on top of my peace sign and grins, victorious. He wins significantly more times than he loses.

Lucky bastard.

It’s all skill, babe. Have a great day, he says.

You, too.

We kiss good-bye. It’s our typical morning good-bye kiss. A quick peck. A well-intentioned habit. I look down and notice Lucy’s round, blue eyes paying close attention. I flash to studying my own parents kissing when I was little. They kissed each other hello and good-bye and good night like I would have kissed one of my aunts, and it terribly disappointed me. There was no drama to it at all. I promised myself that when I got married someday, I would have kisses that meant something. Kisses that would make me weak in the knees. Kisses that would embarrass the kids. Kisses like Han Solo kissing Princess Leia. I never saw my father kiss my mother like that. What was the point of it? I never got it.

Now I get

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  • (4/5)
    After a horrific car accident, successful business woman and mother, Sarah Nickerson, suffers a brain injury known as Left Neglect where the patient's brain is unable to acknowledge or recognise the left-side of anything. Suddenly Sarah finds herself helpless, unable to feel the left-side of her body, read the left-side of a page or see anything on the left-side of the room. Fiercely independent before the accident, Sarah suddenly finds herself relying on others to do the most basic of tasks for her. I had never heard of Left Neglect before reading this book and I found Sarah to have a believable voice. I shared her fears, frustrations, small successes and fighting spirit. I can only imagine her heart-ache when she first realised everything she had lost and how terrifying that must have been. Gradually, however, Sarah learns to cope with her limitations and comes to appreciate what is really important in life. Sarah's mother is another great character. With her own fears and insecurities she steps in to become Sarah's personal nurse - dressing her, helping with Sarah's physio therapy, looking after the children and taking care of the general running of a busy household.

    My only negative would be that the build-up to the accident was a bit too long and the end came quickly, otherwise it was a fascinating read. I am becoming a real Genova fan. Can't wait for her next book.
  • (4/5)
    love Genova's writing style because it's so easy to get sucked into her books. All the blurbs on the cover say things along the line of "Clear your schedule" - and that's brilliant advice. It was incredibly hard to put the book down each time I had to go do something else. But above her writing style, I love Genova's subjects. She has a PhD in neuroscience, and has used that knowledge in both of her books I've read so far (Love Anthony being the other). The condition of "left neglect" that is the focus in this book is so fascinating, and I had never heard of it, so I was absolutely drawn in to learning about the condition. The characters are realistic as well, and the side story lines are really interesting, but her knowledge of neuroscience makes me eager to read more of her books and see what else she tackles.
  • (4/5)
    This is a condition I have never heard of before. It's pretty scary that you can get a head injury and even though it's there, your body doesn't acknowledge the left side of anything. I already don't use my phone when driving for anything and this book makes me want to put my phone in the trunk when I'm driving so I'm not tempted at all. This was very well written and Lisa really pulled me into the story and into the lives of the characters. I highly recommend this book.
  • (3/5)
    I liked this book a lot, and I liked Genova's other novel. "Still Alice" as well. Both books are about women with neurological issues, but she does a great job of drawing a character you can relate to and of situations you can imagine yourself in. I was drawn in immediately.
  • (4/5)
    pretty good. a tiny bit predictable but atill4a great read.
  • (5/5)
    The narrator suffers a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. She is diagnosed with "left neglect" a lack of awareness of everything to her left, including the left side of her body. The author is a neuroscientist and does a marvelous job of describing the condition from Sarah's point of view.
  • (3/5)
    Digital Audiobook narrated by Sarah PaulsonA high-powered, “Type A” professional woman is excellent at her job and at juggling the demands of her children, her husband and her career. That is right up until the moment that she suffers a major brain injury in an auto accident and wakes with “left neglect.” This is a real neurological condition brought on by stroke or trauma, that results in the patient’s inability to recognize anything on the left. Patients suffering hemispacial neglect can see, walk, talk, but their brains ignore any signals from the left. As she has done for other neurological disorders, Genova crafts a compelling story that educates and entertains. I felt Sarah’s frustrations as she worked with occupational therapists to try to regain some of her lost functionality. I empathized with her inability to let go of the high expectations she set for herself. Her relationships with her husband, her mother, her children were all greatly affected by her changed circumstances. Something as “simple” as getting a Coke from the fridge became a complicated, frustrating and possibly dangerous adventure. I applaud Genova (and Sarah) for finding a little humor in some of these situations. I know a person with some aspects of this (result of a stroke). His stroke was several years ago, and he has long since stopped any physical or occupational therapy. His wife (and now the caretakers at the assisted living facility he calls home) turns his plate around for him or he’ll eat only what is on the right side, totally ignoring the left side of the plate. When she was still alive, his wife frequently reminded him to use his left hand. Reading this book has helped me understand a bit more about his condition. That being said, I thought the book was interesting and informative, but not as compelling as some of her other works. Sarah Paulson did a fine job performing the audiobook. She has good pacing and enough skill as a voice artist to different the various characters. I particularly liked how she voiced Sarah and her mother; the emotions behind their words really came out in her performance.
  • (5/5)
    Wonderful book! Lisa Genova is an artist, as with her first book, in her second novel, Left Neglected, she takes a somber condition and adds a human touch with a twist of humor. She draws you right in the midst of all of the tormoil, but with her quirky bits of humor thrown in, it is an enjoyable place to be.Sarah Nickerson, after surviving a car accident in which she suffered a brain injury, is diagnosed with Left Neglect, which is a medical condition that not many people are familiar with. After suffering trama to the right side of your brain, your brain ignores information on the left side of the world including your own body.Recovery is a long arduous process, and there isn't a guarantee that you will ever be back to the person you were before. Therefore, not only are you working toward recovery, you are also working at accepting the all of changes in your new way of life.Lisa Genova captures this with sensitivity and humor.
  • (3/5)
    This neurological-impairment based book is a bit like the movie "Regarding Henry" in its depiction of a typical hard-driving Type A personality struck down with a life-changing physical impairment. Forced to cope with reduced capabilities, the heroine reexamines her life and comes out the other end changed, but somehow better. The medicine and science is impecable, the story too predictable, but engaging nonetheless.
  • (3/5)
    My neighbor lent me this book. It wasn't a bad book, it kept me interested but I didn't have a hard tie putting it down either. On the cover someone compared it to a Robin Cook book and I would have to agree here- te two types of writing weigh out the same to me.Being retired from te medical profession I am gad to see subjects like this, which few even know about, brought to public awareness.The story touched a couple of ideas that are always important - that success isn't always measured in dollar amounts and our loved oes are lways what is most important. It also brought up the continuing danger of texting/ talking on the phone while driving and what the results of such can be(though of course this won't stop those who o do this from doing it). All in all this was what I would call an intertwining book but not a prize winne.
  • (4/5)
    Very interesting...really made you stop and think about life.
  • (4/5)
    I picked up this book as a fan of Jodi Picoult who is a fan. It features Sarah who has a frenetic life with a high-powered job as well as three children one of whom seems to be struggling at school. One day while driving to work her life changes forever in ways she could never have envisaged.

    Sarah is not a likeable person and I couldn't identify at all with someone who put her job before her family especially as she critises her own mother for being distant after a family tragedy when Sarah was young.

    I did find it interesting showing her efforts to regain her life but it is very simplistic and unrealistic at times. Highlighting a little known condition it reads at times like a real life account of a woman and her realisation that things have to change. I feel that there is so much more that could have been written and developed to show how her rehabilition works. Her husband is almost an afterthough and we never really learn much about him and how he copes

    The first few chapters have dream sequences which are confusing and add nothing to the story.

    The ending although good in some ways was rather rushed and contrived.

    What this book shows well is that we may think that we have our life all planned out but things can happen without warning which changes everything we think we know about ourself. As the saying goes 'Life is what happens when we're busy making plans'
  • (5/5)
    "Left Neglected" doesn't have the same emotional punch as "Still Alice", but it is every bit as wonderful. Suffering from a traumatic head injury, Sarah awakens to find herself suffering from a syndrome called Left Neglect. Her brain is unaware of anything on the left side. Before the accident, Sarah was a dynamic executive, juggling her career and family of 5. Her recovery is frustratingly slow but she learns to take each day as it comes. Hopefully, people who shied away from her last novel because it hit too close to home will read "Left Neglected" and discover what a fantastic writer Lisa Genova is. Filled with humor and hope, this is one I will be recommending to everyone I know.
  • (4/5)
    This one really grabbed me. A supermom/wife/worker has her world turned upside down. So many things to which I could relate in this story. Very good.
  • (4/5)
    This is the story of a woman whose unbelievably busy life comes to an abrupt halt in a split second. She survives the terrible car accident, but she is left with a brain injury that doesn't allow her brain to recognize the left side of her body. An intense, but sometimes humorous story of how she finds her center again as she rebuilds her life.
  • (4/5)
    What is really important in life? This story examines that question through the eyes of a career driven woman suddenly laid low by a car accident. Sarah was a constantly on the go businesswoman whose pace of life was so fast it is no surprise that she is often on the phone while she is driving--a near fatal error that leads to an accident and to a brain injury. The brain injury leaves Sarah with a condition called "Left Neglect"--her brain no longer realizes that there is a "left", so things on the left side of her vision disappear, and she also has no control over the left side of her body. Still, Sarah is elated to be alive, and she plunges into therapy, thinking that since she has never failed at anything she will be back at work in no time. Except she isn't. And when she does return home she needs lots of help--which is when her mother, whom she has hardly spoken to in years, reenters her life. As Sarah works through her recovery, she finds that taking things at a slower pace and actually spending time with her mother, husband and children make her notice things that she never slowed down to take note of before. Sarah changes--but does her family change with her?I highly recommend this, especially if you like books that explore medical issues and/or family issues. I found it engrossing and the characters felt very real to me.
  • (4/5)
    Provides a candid look at at the impacts of a brain injury on a professional, highly driven Mom of three as she has to step back from her high-powered executive life, relearn simple daily tasks and in the process rediscover meaning and balance.
  • (5/5)
    In an interview about her book Still Alice, Genova mentioned that she was reading Never Say Die, a memoir about a women who had a brain hemorrhage. Of course I had to read that immediately so I was quite surprised to see the many similarities in the first several chapters in both books. Both women struggled through emotional and physical details of trying to manage with the loss of a portion of their brain in control of a major part of their respective bodies. Yes, the stories pull in different circumstances but for a while I was almost wondering if I was just rereading a book I had just finished! Of course the lives go in different directions but the two women one in the novel and one in a memoir would recognize each other and have a lot to share with each other.
  • (4/5)
    Sarah is a 37 yr old mother of three who has it "all"- both she and her husband work 90 hours a week in high paying high stress jobs. She loves every minute of it! Then a car accident leaves her with a brain injury and Left Neglect- an unusual disorder that makes it nearly impossible for her to recognize anything on her left. It was very interesting reading about this phenomenon, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters of the book, unlike Lisa Genova's other novel Still Alice.
  • (5/5)
    Like her previous novel (Still Alice), Lisa Genova manages to write a very readable novel about a neurological condition, while at the same time capturing the feelings and emotions of a person suffering the condition, as well as all of those around her. I work in the rehab realm but yet learned a lot about this little-known condition known as Left Neglect. However, the thing about this novel that hit me the most was Genova's ability to very, very accurately describe the lifestyle of a working mom. From the first chapter, her descriptions of a hectic weekday morning trying to get the kids ready for daycare, school, etc. were SPOT ON. It could've been me she was writing about, or any of a number of other working moms out there. I did find the main character of Sarah a bit unlikeable & snooty at times, but I also think that added to this particular story. The moral of this novel is basically the idea that one needs to slow down & enjoy life, family, etc., which is nothing we haven't heard before, but it was presented in a refreshingly new light, in the context of rehabbing a neurological condition. I very much enjoyed this novel, probably more so than Genova's previous one.
  • (4/5)
    Sarah has an MBA from Harvard, a lovely family and an overwhelmingly busy life. When she gets distracted while driving, she ends up in an accident that causes her life to take a new direction and literally reprogram her brain to make up for the left part that doesn't function. She finds what truly matters. She reconnects with her distant mother when her insurance runs out, she learns to live in a new and different way and once her son is diagnosed with ADHD, she must truly rethink her priorities. This is such a cautionary tale for the countries' overworked mothers that are expected to be and do everything. I really wanted to dislike Sarah, but Genova makes that impossible. All of the characters in the story have flaws, but they come together when it is important. Sarah's mother, distant when her son dies at a young age, actually turns out to be someone so sympathetic that you can't fault her for ignoring Sarah while she was growing up and the despair she feels has overwhelmed her. The part where Sarah reconnects with her mother is just beautifully written. While Sarah tries to overcome her Left Neglect brain issues, she finds out what is truly important. It is amazing how much one can overcome when a family comes together.
  • (4/5)
    a book about finding yourself
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this fast read. The reader could identify with Sarah and her difficulty adjusting to life with a brain injury. I think Sarah's desire to regain her old life and eventual openness to acceptable concessions was well-done and very realistic to the character.I felt the book took a little time to get going. The first few chapters introduce us to the characters and Sarah's type-A lifestyle. I think this could have been accomplished in fewer chapters. I kept waiting for the accident to happen already.The ending was a bit pretty and perfect to be wholly realistic.I did not enjoy the dreams that opened the beginning chapters and that closed the book. The dreams were too perfectly symbolic and prescient - unrealistic compared to any dream that I have ever experienced.
  • (4/5)
    Sarah Nickerson is a type-A mother-of-three who is living the expensive, busy life of Big Business in Boston. Although Sarah always talks on the phone while driving, THIS time she has a terrible accident and ends up with a brain injury. With Left Neglect, Sarah is unaware of the left sides of everything (including herself). With this new disability, she must pick up the pieces of her shattered life-in the process she reconnects with her family. This book was fantastic in a variety of ways. It describes a fascinating neurological condition (Left Neglect) while enveloping the reader in a bittersweet story about family, identity, and disability. Definitely worth reading!
  • (4/5)
    Early Bird Review: I'm a little under halfway through the book at this point and, for the most part, I really like this book. Just a few early notes:

    1) By chapter 6, I was getting bored with the constant replay of her dreams in page after page of italics. It was interesting at first but got old really fast.
    2) Lisa Genova only writes about extremely, absurdly wealthy women and absolutely adores dripping a page with Fancy-Schmancy brand name dropping; which I find to be mildly distracting and semi-hard to relate with. Buuuuut, she is such a good storyteller that I often get absorbed enough to forget about it.
    3) The son, Charlie, may have ADD and the parents are horrendously mortified at this possibility are react as if he has just been diagnosed with autism, mental retardation or some severe physical deformity that will shatter his life. The mother goes on-and-on about how children will ostracize him, call him names, ruin his childhood, etc. It was published in 2011, get with the times baby! ADD is not and has not been a life-threatening disease..ever. The 1990s was the decade to fret over the effects of ADD ravaging your child and making him "stupid". It's fairly easily treated with non-ritalin medication these days. So, this portion of the book seems really outdated (especially when written by someone who holds a PhD in Neuroscience, such as Ms. Genova does) and difficult to care about. We all know ADD, while definitely frustrating, is not that sign of a stupid child; it is often found in hyper-intelligent children.


    Being that it is 2am, I think my completed review shall come in the morning... ;)

    Onward ho, back to the book we go!

    4 August: I stayed up all night long reading this book. The condition, same as the book's title, is absolutely fascinating. A genuinely real condition depicted incredibly well. I stand by my points of dislike listed above but I will still be pushing this book on many people. She writes with a knowledge that most authors don't have on brain injuries. The idea that a left side just simply ceases to exist is almost completely unfathomable to any healthy person. Of course it exists, we think, just turn your head and you'll see...

    In Sarah Nickerson's world, that is no longer an easy feat. Left doesn't exist. She isn't missing anything, in her mind, it just ceases to appear. No sound, no light, no feeling, nothing is there. She cannot turn her head a direction that does not exists..
  • (5/5)
    Very interesting story of a woman who has it all..perfect family, high power job,etc. It is all stolen in a second when she is injured in a car crash. When she awakens in the hospital she has a condition called Left-Neglect (a real medical condition) that has caused her to lose all concept of "Left". She has no awareness of her left leg or arm, she can't see the left side of her face, or the left page of a book. It was really challenging to understand how you could lose something like this, but it is caused by right side brain injuries.I admired the way the character worked thru her hardships and came to an acceptance of her "new" life.
  • (3/5)
    Similar to her first book Still Alive; how a woman copes dealing with dementia (Still Alice) or how she deals with injury in the result of a car accident. Both woman high powered executives, perfect family life, and then life changes .
  • (5/5)
    I am asked what a good book would be for a book club and I hesitate. I want to be able to recommend a book that 1) has the power to transform or alter perception 2) is written well 3) is clean enough that I can look the ladies in the eye at church after they have read it. This one passes all three of my requirements.I'm going to work backwards.The book is clean. Yes, there is swearing but I don't recall anything blatantly offensive. Yes, there is sex as Sarah reconnects with that portion of herself and her husband. In fact, that was one of my favorite parts of the book in regard to Sarah's healing.The book is written well. It struck me, in fact, that Genova is more than a novelist but also an essayist. She writes each chapter so it connects with the book but the chapters are like well written essays. Each one addresses something in particular while following the chronology of Sarah's life. On top of this, I loved the protagonist. She is snarky, spunky, intelligent, high achieving, and juggling the demands of career and home. Genova describes the ins and outs of motherhood and appointments in a way that I didn't know if I wanted to laugh or cry. The constant struggle of balancing these aspects often do have me either mentally writing a blog post in my head or curling up in fetal position when I hit my tipping point. Genova seems to understand this very well. The content makes the reader think. The story is about a woman who suffers TBI and maintains her memories, her speech, hearing, sight, taste, touch, most of her neurological function and all of her wit and intellect. What she loses is the connection to the left side of her body. It still works. It's still connected to her brain. She simply does not recognize it. There is no left. She doesn't own a left leg because it doesn't exist. On the other hand, if someone taps her left leg or scratches her left arm, she feels it or it hurts. She has to retrain herself to pay attention to the parts of her body that don't exist to her anymore. Her progress or lack thereof could be viewed as tedious as it is slow and, like real life, a neurological injury does not fully heal. On the other hand, if reading the chapters like essays, each chapter offers wisdom and growth. On a personal note, it gave me a huge insight and respect for my father's brain surgery which caused neurological damage 16 years ago and his tenacity to retrain his brain.Abstractly, the book is about neglect. In one part of the book, Sarah remembers an article that explains the 20% rule. We only need to understand 20% of something to be effective doing 80% of it. Trying to understand something 100% is a waste of time and we will neglect something else in our life of import. The story nudges the reader to look at her own life and assess what she may be neglecting that is important? What can be simplified and scaled back to manageable bite sizes in order to concentrate on what is important? What can be forsaken?This is an awesome read. It is funny, moving, and cerebral.
  • (4/5)
    Let me first say that the author, Lisa Genova has a great knack for coming up with wonderful names for her titles, names that are overloaded with several meanings despite being short. Just like the name of her first book, Still Alice, can be interpreted as 'I am still a person despite being ill' as well as 'My voice is being stilled by alzheimers', so can her second book, Left Neglected, be interpreted as the definition of Sara's illness, as well as her feeling of losing herself because of it. Next I wish to commend her for the beautiful yet alarmingly disquieting cover, a cover that hints at the subject of the book and yet, does not give it fully away. The apple in the center of the front cover looks lusciously red on the right side of the image, but loses its color abruptly on the left side, as if the life has been drained out of it; more precisely, as if you have suddenly lost your ability to process visual information as you turned left. This, in a sense, is what happens to the protagonist, Sara. In the night before her accident, her dreams were trying to wake her up, alarming her to the fact that her hectic life is unsustainable. But Sara would not slow down. Traveling in her car, she looks away from the road for a split second, which costs her dearly: she sustains damage to her brain known as left brain neglect, a neurological syndrome, and has to relearn every skill we take for granted: walking, getting dressed, brushing teeth, using the restroom... With a PhD in Neuroscience, the author studied this condition in great depth, which makes her descriptions highly convincing.This is a cautionary tale, calling us to slow down our hurried lives to cherish the moment. I enjoy the tale part of the story in a profound way--the cautionary part not so much. It was laid on a bit too thickly for me. All the same, the book makes a great read and I recommend it. Four stars.
  • (5/5)
    Someone I know had a stroke and developed Left Neglect. She knew what it was because she had read this book, so I decided to read it too.When I began this book I didn't like Sarah. I thought she was a snooty person who cared nothing for actual people. It was all about work and success. Yes she loved her children, but were they just an extension of her ego? Her desire to be a perfect parent as well as a perfect professional? Where was my compassion? The compassion reserved for all beings, likable or not? OK, this is fiction. I'm allowed not to like someone who doesn't really exist. Of course once she had the accident and became disabled, I felt differently. The novel unfolds and acquires more depth as Sarah discovers her limitations and struggles with fighting them vs. accepting them and moving on to have the life she desires and deserves. The effect of her increased awareness influences the lives of her children, her husband and her mother, long alienated from her by a childhood tragedy. Lisa Genova also describes Left Neglect in a way that you can really understand it. It isn't paralysis. It is lack of awareness of the left. A fascinating look into how the brain's awareness of left is coupled to the ability to see left and to move left.Altogether a rewarding and enriching reading experience.