Lisa GenovaSarah Nickerson is a high-powered working mom with too much on her plate and too little time. One day racing to work and trying to make a phone call, she takes her eyes off the road for a second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her over-scheduled life come to a screeching halt. A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world. As she struggles to recover, she discovers that she must embrace a simpler life, and in doing so begins to heal the things she’s left neglected in herself, her family and the world around her.
Sometimes a particularly clever novel imparts a strong message.That's certainly the case with Lisa Genova's book - and the clarion call it leaves behind 'For God's sake, slow down. Life is too fragile to spend the whole time rushing. Multi-tasking is disastrous and potentially fatal.'
A message for our times. In Genova's book, Sarah Nickerson is a busy wife and mother. She and her husband are successful and own a holiday home in Vermont, but their jobs make their lives relentless. Rush here, hurry there. Never time to pause and think.Then one day, Sarah makes a phone call while driving (who isn't guilty of doing that, law or now law?) which results in an horrific car crash. She sustains a traumatic brain injury which means she literally has no awareness of her left side. Her own body has no comprehension of the left dimension of the world. It's not just that she can't see anything to her left, she literally has no comprehension that anything at all exists on the left hand side of her body.
The author has a PHD in neuroscience from Harvard. She uses her medical knowledge to inform a fascinating novel which explores how a catastrophic brain injury can in fact, improve the life and awareness of the victim and her family.Genova is brilliant at describing how near-tragedy and long term disability can force human beings to re-examine their lives, analyse what was making them unhappy, and put into practice a new lifestyle that, whatever it lacks in money and status, is actually much healthier and happier for the whole family.
Lisa Genova is an expert on neurology, and to read a novel which describes traumatic brain injury from the point of view of the victim is fascinating. She makes clear that such an injury doesn't destroy the humanity of the individual, and that, with some major adjustments, the patient can still enjoy a productive, loving, and happy life, which is in many ways an improvement on the way they lived before.
When Sarah Nickerson wakes up in hospital after her accident, with a brain injury so serious that at first she doesn't even know how bad it is (if you are no longer aware that there is a world on your left hand side, then you have no idea what you've lost.) her condition is in fact a metaphor for her unsatisfactory life before the car crash.Back then, perfectly healthy, but blind to the potential rewards of a life she is missing because of her constant helter-skelter wish to 'have it all' - husband, children, top job - she was able bodied but frenetically miserable. She was anxious about her marriage, her children, and her broken relationship with her elderly mother.
Forced to slow down, her life actually expands and becomes more peaceful. She mends the schism between her and her mother, her marriage becomes more loving, her husband more attentive, and her children happier and much more contented.Genova doesn't gloss over the serious nature of Sarah's brain injury. She merely points out that a radically changed life is not necessarily a deprived one. Just the opposite, in fact. An inspirational book.
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