Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

I finished reading Left Neglected by Lisa Genova this morning.  Wow... that is pretty much all I can say about this book!  Wow! Wow!  Wow!  I've been left speechless believe it or not.  That's how good this book was.  :-)

Okay, let me try to sound a little more intelligent here... why did I like this book?  To start with, the subject matter was absolutely amazing!  The main character of this book, Sarah, suffers a brain injury where her brain does not register the left side of anything... her brain doesn't even acknowledge that she has a left side of her body either!  The story starts with Sarah's crazy schedule... getting up before the sun to check email, feed her kids, get them ready for school, then trading chores with her husband so that they could get them all out of the house, to school and daycare, then off to work on time.  Reading those first few chapters left me feeling tired!  :-)  :-)  Then the day comes where Sarah has a car accident on her way to work.  She wakes up in the hospital a few days later with half her head shaved and staples in her scalp.

The main chunk of the story is about Sarah's rehabilitation in the hospitals and at home.  The details about what Sarah goes through is amazing.  It's hard to imagine what exactly she is going through, but the author did an excellent job at opening that door to let us peek into Sarah's mind.  While reading this book, I suffered with Sarah and felt her frustration as well as her stress.  Even though she was supposed to be concentrating on getting better, all Sarah could think about is getting back to work and the craziness that she was accustomed to for so many years.  She was convinced that she would be back to work in a month - talk about major denial!

There were other parts of the book that was also interesting to read.  The subplot with Sarah's mother.  With the few Christian fiction books that I've been reading lately, this could have been the perfect opportunity for the writer to throw in the whole "finding God" subplot at this point, but instead she brought in Sarah's estranged mother.  Sarah finally learns to accept that she needs the help and the only person that can truly take care of her and her kids is her mother.  She finally forgives her mom for mentally abandoning her so many years before when she was a child and is eventually grateful for building that relationship now.  This worked out so much better for me than the whole religion angle.

One of the things that Sarah learns from her mother is how to slow down a bit... the rest she figures out on her own.  But that crazy rat-race life that she once loved and craved no longer seemed like a good option for her current state of mind.  At this point she is still not completely recovered from the left neglect and is still slow at reading and even typing.  So even when she is given the opportunity to go back to work for her former company, she's not sure if that is the kind of life that she really wants anymore.  Thanks to Sarah's mother, Sarah is also building better relationships with her own kids as well - and she finally figures out that they are more important that any six figures a year job where working 70 to 80 hours a week is normal and the kids only got the left over 1 or 2 hours a day of her attention.

Even at the end of the book Sarah is still not completely recovered, but her life is better - even with the challenges that she still has to deal with due to the left neglect.  The whole journey that the author takes us in Sarah's head is just amazing.  I remember back when my job and career were more important to me than anything else.  I didn't care how many hours it took but I was going to get what needed to get done done and done well.  And now I'm a stay at home mom and have been since Caeden was 2 months old.  We don't live like we used to and I have to admit that we are broke more often that I'd like to be.  But Caeden has me to take him to the bus stop in the morning, to greet him off the bus in the afternoon, to help him with homework and any project for school.  He has me to play board games or Lego's with and to take him to play dates.  Sure, I don't dress as well as I used to and I only own about 3 pairs of shoes now, but like Sarah, I've learned to slow down and am really enjoying it and do not regret giving up the rat-race at all.  :-)

Wow, so much for being speechless!  Ha! ha!  :-)

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