Earlier this week I read and reviewed Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. I enjoyed it so much, I went out and bought Left Neglected and Love Anthony, by the same author even though reading two books by the same author in succession is something I rarely do.
Although my review of Still Alice was a clean sweep, I loved, well…. pretty much all of it, this review will not be quite as glowing. That does not mean I didn’t like the book, it just means I didn’t like it as much.
I’ll begin with what I did like. Once again, I like Lisa Genova’s writing style. If you’ve ever read a book with either stale expressions and metaphors or worse, nonsensical metaphors, (Her eyes grew as large as the dinner plates my Aunt Bess used for holiday meals), you’ll appreciate Lisa’s crisp approach. She is a master at imagery. For that reason alone I would rate her book high.
I wasn’t fond of the book for the first 100 pages. I’m not a fan of prologues and I’m less of a fan of dreams sequences, especially as an opening. And if that weren’t enough, I felt I read 100 pages of how busy Sarah and Bob’s life was and how she worked 70 to 80 hours a week (even though she made her morning commute between say seven and eight o’clock and was home by 6:30 to eat dessert with the kids. The math didn’t add up). Much of the beginning was a gross exaggeration of how busy she (they) were, told as if to impress the reader.
But, I had signed on to read the entire book, so I plodded along. I’m glad I did. The last 2/3 of the book improved dramatically. From about the point of her accident. Once again, the research she put into writing this book was evident. I had never heard of hemispatial neglect – or left neglect – so it was both an enjoyable work of fiction and a medical lesson in one. One might think that both Still Alice and Left Neglected share too many similarities, injured or handicapped woman with a non-understanding husband, but it didn’t read like that. I didn’t care for John, the husband in Still Alice, but I found Bob, in Left Neglected, likable.
I guess my only real dislike aside from the opening was the perfectionism in Sarah – the perfect wife, the perfect vice president, the perfect patient. We all know a type A personality, but total type A’s can get annoying in large doses. Fortunately, when she accepts the weight of her disability, she becomes much less perfect, which in turn makes her much more likable. Even the strained relationship with her mother worked itself out once she realized she wasn’t perfect.
Left Neglected is about a woman learning to live an entirely new way of life: her acceptance, her challenges, and her triumphs. There are no surprise endings. Although it’s almost entirely predictable after page 100, it is an enjoyable predictability.
I would have given it 3-stars due to a beginning I felt was lacking, but the rest of the book and the wonderful writing style bumped it up to a 4-star read. Would I recommend it? Yes. But if you haven’t read Still Alice, I would go in that direction first.