Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is an A+. I found out about the book from my friend Kellie and after our discussion, was anxious to read for many reasons. Through personal experiences, I have always had a keen interest in neurological disorders and how they shape and impact our lives. Additionally, the main character Sarah Nickerson portrayed a woman that I could see in my future; but did I want that woman in my future?
Sarah is a corporate executive for a HR recruiting firm and is driven by success. She has three children, and a husband who is equally driven. It is immediately apparent that their careers shape their lives and I found myself instantly judging the family for their particular lifestyle. Mornings are overcome with blackberries and emails, they drop the kids off for school, daycare, or with the nannie; work continues throughout the day and into the evening hours. A quick dinner with the family at 6 and then its back to the grind. Their nanny plays a huge role into the development of the children and unfortunately, their son Charlie is suffering from ADHD, which goes unnoticed for quite some time.
Their lives suddenly change when Sarah is in an accident and finds herself suffering from Left Neglect - a neurological disorder where the brain fails to recognize the left side of the body. Imagine a world where you don't know or can't feel your left arm, leg, can't read words on the left side of the page.
There are many themes throughout the book that could have been more developed. For example, Sarah's relationship with her mother as well as the focus on Charlie and his ADHD. Nonetheless, I found myself contemplating the life of Sarah and questioning myself on if that was the life I wanted. Through numerous avenues, I have been exposed to the challenge of 'finding your passion' and there was a particular passage that caught my attention:
Ever since business school, I've had my head down, barreling a thousand miles an hour, wearing the flesh of each day down to the bone, pointed down one road toward a single goal. A successful life. And not just run-of-the-mill success. The kind of success that my fellow elite classmates would envy, the kind that my professors would cart out to future students as a shining example of achievement, the kind that even the exceptionally prosperous citizens of Welmont would aspire to, the kind that Bob (her husband) would be proud of. The kind of visibly successful life that would in every way be the exact opposite of the broken, shameful life of my childhood.
For that passage, I am grateful. Up to this point, I have been trying to define a successful life, and have struggled quite like Sarah; I do feel that I'm closer or rather, more exposed to the world around me to help shape and define what success means to me. Like Sarah, I'm wondering if I am defining success through the lens of my peers, rather than through my own personal lens. I don't believe this is something that can be answered instantaneously, but rather through deep thought and over a period of time.
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