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.
Wife, mother, and hyper-driven, multitasking Sarah Nickerson, a 37-year-old Harvard Business School grad, is so controlled she limits her crying to five minutes twice a month behind her office desk. She travels to China on business, and still signs permission slips on time. Left Neglected, by Lisa Genova, discerningly chronicles Sarah both before and after a devastating brain injury blots out the left side of her world. Actor Sarah Paulson, always an incandescent force, narrates here with such disarming openness that Left Neglected superficially about a preppy modern mommy of three finding grace through catastrophe gathers enough texture to unfold a richly moving rebirth.
Left Neglected is easy to latch onto, largely because Paulson projects Sarah Nickerson as endearingly insecure and goofy. By pebbling her pre-car crash, pre-head trauma Sarah voice with urgency and strain, Paulson revs up pacing to mirror the choking rhythms of her character’s hurried schedule. Yet the recovering Sarah is looser and less uncensored as Paulson unknots her anxious cadences in a gradual fade. We relax around this Sarah who cracks pun-laced jokes with her rehab therapists and grieves as deeply for the skinny jeans she can no longer button at the waist, as having to relearn using the bathroom alone.
While Left Neglected is Sarah’s story, Paulson astutely rescues the ensemble players Sarah’s jittery, apologetic mother Helen, and her innately decent husband Bob from the fringes. She pitches Bob as honorable and magnetic in his own right, a cool guy whose empathy eventually collapses into panicked resentment as Sarah’s lost income capsizes the family finances. Helen, on the other hand, begs to be Sarah’s rock, atoning for her indifference the last 30 years. “My life can be fully lived with less,” Sarah observes, well into her healing journey. And for us, too, this reclaimed state of blessedness feels lasting and true. Nita Rao
"Imagine your too busy, over scheduled, Type A life coming to a screeching halt. That is what happens in Lisa Genova's timely new novel, Left Neglected. As her protagonist, Sarah Nickerson, works her way through a devastating brain injury and back into that hectic life, she is forced to re-evaluate what really matters. I dare any reader to not do the same in their own lives after reading this book." (Ann Hood)
"Devastating and hopeful, haunting and familiar, Left Neglected is a triumph of insight and empathy." (Stefan Merrill Block, international best-selling author of The Story of Forgetting and The Storm at the Door)
“Once again, Lisa Genova goes where few authors dare, and mines a compelling and beautifully written story about finding peace, wisdom and human connection. While Sarah Nickerson’s condition is rare, her journey is universal. “ (Lynn Kiele Bonasia, author of Summer Shift)
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