I think enough time has gone by to introduce another Lisa Genova book, right? We read Still Alice back in July 2013, and I’ve been dying to read another of her books since.
My choice for the May Walking Book Club is …
Lisa Genova’s second neurologically-inspired novel Left Neglected.
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.
Lisa Genova, holds a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University and now travels, speaks and writes about Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and autism – obviously a woman after my own heart!! She has done research on the molecular basis of depression, Parkinson’s disease, drug addiction, and memory loss following stroke.
Genova is also the author of Still Alice – my Walking Book Club choice from July 2013. And news is, Still Alice is being made into a movie starring Kristen Stewart, Julianne Moore, Kate Bosworth and Alec Baldwin; due for release in 2015.
Walking Book Club discussion starters…
- It goes without saying that Sarah’s life is completely different at the end of the novel than the beginning. Is she ‘better off’ at the end of the novel than at the beginning?
- Sarah’s Type A personality seems like it should help her through her physical therapy, but her friend and therapist Heidi believes she needs to stop trying to “win” and learn how to “adjust.” Do you agree? Do you think by adjusting to her new limitations, Sarah holds herself back from a quicker recovery?
- After Sarah’s accident, Bob uses his cell phone at least once while driving in the car with Sarah and their kids. Why do you think he does that? Do we sometimes make exceptions for ourselves and do something unhealthy or risky in the interest of saving time or getting more done (like texting or using a cell phone while driving) even when we know it is dangerous? Why do you think that is? As an aside, check out this article out on why you can’t stop checking your phone in the car!!
- Sarah’s ideal life is to live in Vermont, close to winter sports and away from the bustle of the city. Imagine an alternative life for yourself. What is your ‘Vermont’
- Before the accident, Sarah muses about all the things that she wishes she and Bob could do, but don’t make time for. What’s on your own list of things that you don’t do as often as you’d like.
- While she loves her high-powered job, Sarah periodically lets herself have timed crying sessions to cope with stress. Discuss the coping mechanisms you use in your own life.
- What did Sarah miss out on by having such a withdrawn mother? If her mother had been more available, do you think Sarah would be as high achieving?
- Sarah’s work/life balance before her disability is weighted toward work, whereas after it is weighted toward her family. Describe your own work-life balance? Does Left Neglected make you reconsider any of your career decisions?
- The back cover states that the novel is “about what we ignore and neglect in ourselves, in our families, and in the world around us.” What are you neglecting in your life?
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About Dr Sarah
I’m an Oxford University-educated neuroscientist, presenter of ABC Catalyst, director of The Neuroscience Academy, and author of The Women's Brain Book. The neuroscience of health, hormones and happiness.
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