Books & Beans: Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Books and Beans is a book discussion I host at a local coffee shop once a month.  This is our second month doing this and this mornings discussion (with a great cup of coffee) was with the book Left Neglected by Lisa Genova.

If you have not read Lisa Genova, you are certainly missing out.  Lisa is the author of Still Alice (which was also a movie), and Inside The O’Briens ; both of which I have read, as well as the author of Love Anthony and the soon to be released, Every Note Played.  she is one of those authors that once you have read one of her books, you will more than likely be searching for another.

Today’s discussion was good.  We had a great group of women who were highly engaged in discussing the novel.  Left Neglected, the story of Sarah Nickerson, a highly driven business woman who while trying to squeeze in one more phone call while driving looks away from the road a second too long and her overfilled life suddenly comes to a halt.  When Sarah awakens in the hospital she finds that she has had a traumatic brain injury, one that has left her without the use of the left side of her brain referred to as left neglect.  Sarah finds that her once carefully scheduled to the minute world is now one she must release to the control of others while she struggles to rehabilitate herself in a whole new world.

We touched on some pretty important topics through our discussion.  One of these topics was status and what drives people to the point of feeling they need that acceptance form the outside world to feel complete, useful.  One of the ladies in the room said something that stuck with me.  She said,

Status, relies on other people.

I had never really thought of it like that before.  The discussion continued on that this need of acceptance/approval can stem back to childhood. 

Another one that stuck with me was about the loss of a child. 

Losing a child changes how you view the world.


This is also something that hit me.  It’s true… 100%, I just never quite put it into these words.  But yes.. absolutely yes, the world becomes a different place.

We had a wonderful 2 hour discussion on this book and probably could have went longer.  Left Neglected brings much to the table to talk about.  If you have not read Left Neglected, I highly recommend it.


21 thoughts on “Books & Beans: Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

  1. We who have been on this journey with you know about your struggles with these issues. And, I keep wondering about the family that had 15 kids and neglected/chained all but 1 of them as well.

    Still Alice: IMHO the movie outdid the book. Genovese didn’t quite get Alice’s voicein her presentation, but the stars did. Keep moving my friend and enjoy your winter break

    1. Thank you Andrea for the comment. Genova really has a way of capturing her characters in a state of whatever she is writing about – her writing makes me wonder what powerful and painful experiences she has had to make her books so rich with knowledge.

    2. This is my favorite book of Lisa’s so far. I loved the wit and humor in a story with such a tragic plot.

  2. I envy your book club at the coffee shop! I am searching for such a group here, but may have to start my own, too!

    I loved Left Neglected…sad, though, like all of Genova’s books. But I can’t resist them.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Start one Laurel. This was just a whim idea and out first month there were 4 of us… yesterday there were 10. 🙂 Its fun to find a book group. More than half of those who attended were not in a book club of any sort.

  3. “Status, relies on other people.” Definitely an interesting perspective. Something I’m not sure I understand. In fact, I am now struggling with someone who feels like they are not needed anymore, so there is no purpose in life for them…

    1. I believe I get it – status is something others label us with… if you are popular, or good at your job… it is like feedback from others … at least that is the way I take it.

      That is hard what you are dealing with and while I am no expert and do not pretend to be – it sounds like the person you are speaking of needs affirmation of who they are and that they are needed. I hate to admit it – but I have been there.

      1. Yes, I, too came to that conclusion. Thank you for affirming my thoughts. I will try to figure out to put my appreciation into words and hopefully it will be sufficient to have this person come alive again.

  4. I read LEFT NEGLECTED several years ago and thought it was really well done. A condition that I had never even heard of. Lisa Genova does a really good job bringing humanity to some of the worst diseases. She knows her stuff – both as a scientist and as a writer. Looks like a fun group!

  5. Sheila, how wonderful that you host a book discussion once a month at a coffee shop! This sounds like an engrossing book. I’ve heard of this author but have not yet read her work.

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