Left Neglected by Lisa Genova


“Please tell me there are others,” I say.

This book is one of those that’s hard to put down. Reading it is like watching a BBC crime show. There’s no whodunit to solve, but there’s a specific problem and there’s obstacles and there’s a complicated love interest (the husband) and there’s a baby named Linus, and I’m always a sucker for babies named Linus. It’s not a great book, but it passes the time well.

Left neglect is a real neurological issue resulting from some forms of brain trauma. The woman in the book drives her car into a bunch of other cars on the highway and when she wakes up from the ordeal and subsequent coma, she has no perception of the left side of the world. She eats half of what’s on her plate and assumes that’s everything. If you stand to her left side, you aren’t in the room with her. She knows she has a left hand but she has no idea where it is.

Do you do this too? Assume that whatever you’re reading about/watching/learning about is happening to you? I’m pretty suggestible. I’d be a terrible medical student. I took Abnormal Psychology in college and that was the year I was the most messed up, ever.

So now I’m wondering—am I neglecting things and not even realizing it? Do I actually have four kids? Is there another floor to our house? Am I supposed to be working on my PhD? Am I extremely overweight? Do I still have horses? Is there another lawn I should be mowing?

I’m haunted by ghosts of things that probably don’t exist, never existed. The other day I mentioned to Michael that when I was a kid I thought I probably had something wrong with me that no one ever told me about, and he asked, “Why would you think that?” That’s a very weird question. How could you not think it?

I love the term “evidence-based,” don’t you? It’s so tidy. But it’s not how I live my life, apparently. I need no evidence to know that I’d be awesome at lots of different things and that I’d suck at others. Like driving a race car. Or setting a broken bone on the side of a mountain. Yeah, I’m not your girl. Jumping from a plane into a broiling volcano? Right up my alley. No, I’ve never this before, not even close, but the evidence of my courage and talent is just waiting to be gathered.

Today is Veteran’s Day, the day we celebrate the people who lead lives of evidence-based bravery. Michael is a veteran. And he’s a pretty brave guy. He married me and then we had all these kids, so that says something. And if ever you needed a bone set on the side of a mountain, he’d be an excellent bet. Like me, he sometimes neglects some parts of his life and focuses too hard on others. He works really hard at his job and not so much at the not-eating-cookies. He might spend several weekend hours researching neurological deficiencies and then look up, confused, when I mention how dark it is, how early it is. Daylight savings, what? My sweet.

The boys and I made a great surprise for him today. I’m not going to tell you what it is because there’s every chance he’ll read this before he gets home. It’s a gesture of gratitude for his service to the country, but mostly for his service to us. We’d be adrift on a wide sea without him. We’d never find the things we lose. We’d be hopeless in the face of construction. We might never go to bed, and our shoes would be forever wet and muddy.

Of all the things I may be neglecting, I hope it’s not him. Love you, dearest.

2 thoughts on “Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

  1. What a wonderful read, me dearest! I love you too and no, you are NOT neglecting me. AND WOW! What a surprise! For those that have no idea who we are – we had horses for years until recently and the garage has been screaming at me to clean it ever since the last of our big pals passed. And my back surgery and recovery this fall has left that weighing on my mind. Andi and the boys CLEANED it for me!!

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