Friday, February 22, 2013

October 2012 Bookers Minutes, Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
The life you have built for yourself is on the left side of the scale…on the right the exigencies of being connected. Your choices will tip the balance one way or the other. How will it lean?
23 Bookers and 2 friends from the “big city” (not Gun Barrel) met at the home of Lee McFarlane, co-hosted by Debbie Ellsworth. We started the meeting with great news from Jean Alexander who had a first-hand report on Pat Faherty’s successful back surgery. Debbie offered a prayer for Pat’s speedy recovery. We look forward to the return of our resident “spit bull!” Susan Klepper joined us for the first time…welcome.
MN thanked those who donated their copies of Still Alice and due to your generosity, she has nine copies to give to her brother to use in his Alzheimer’s seminar. As most of you know, MN has intimate knowledge of this horrific disease as her Mother succumbed to it and now it’s raging in her fifty-four year old sister-in-law.
It’s difficult to imagine not knowing the side of your body even exists, so we attempted a visual to emphasize the trauma…what it might be like to do something as simple as getting dressed. I wore pull-on pants…no zippers, and a top…no buttons, an earring on the right lobe, a tennis shoe and white sock on the right foot, and a pink flamingo sock on the left foot that I wouldn’t have known I had, and a jangling bracelet on my left hand to draw attention to that side of world. MN’s face divided down the middle, makeup only on the right side, and none on the left. Can you imagine only being able to read these words highlighted in red?
            I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the
           Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible,
with Liberty and Justice for all.
Applause goes to Colleen Hinckley on her very first book review! Great job and we appreciate her willingness to tackle this novel. She brings a unique perspective as she was born blind in her left eye…the difference is that she knows she has a left side…she just can’t see out of that eye. From the publisher of Left Neglected: “In an instant life can change forever. Sarah 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 looks away from the road for one 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 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.”
Sarah fits the mold of a Type A personality… associated with time urgency, competitive workaholics. Successfully juggling an eighty-hour a week job, three kids and a husband, she performed as a master conjurer, until…Presto, the magician’s wand controlling her multi-tasking life vanished. An error in judgment left her with Left Neglect Syndrome, damaging the right hemisphere of the brain that causes the patient to experience a deficit in attention and failure to recognize the left side of their body or space. She wasn’t blinded…she just didn’t know there was more to Sarah than what she saw in the mirror.
In a split second, she turned in her Wonder-Woman costume for a hospital gown and became ensconced in learning how to do the simplest tasks. Complicating matters further, her Mother arrived to take care of the family’s daily routine and help with Sarah’s rehabilitation. She was welcomed with the disdain reserved for a gold-digger swooping in to claim a broken family. They had a complicated and distant relationship stemming from the accidental drowning of her little brother, Nate. Sarah lost both a sibling and her Mother that day, her feelings of anger and bitterness festering through the years… and now this “absent parent” was in charge of her life. “Where was she during my childhood…all those nights eating alone in front of the television while she was holed up in pain…Why wasn’t I enough for her?” Often there are blessings shrouded inside cataclysms…Sarah’s injury forced Mother and daughter together giving them the time needed to repair the damage and find a way back to each other, and also allowing Sarah insight into the special challenges of her young son, Charlie, recently diagnosed with ADD. Sarah learned how her Mother’s grief and depression took over her life…how she blamed herself for not being able to protect her son…and her fear… what if something happened to her daughter as well…she didn’t deserve to be her Mother. She had asked God to let her die every night for the past thirty years, and felt responsible for Sarah’s accident because she asked for a reason to be in Sarah’s life. Sarah realizes that her Mother doesn’t need another anti-depressant pill to make her whole again…she needs Sarah’s forgiveness for being left neglected. The words would follow a path from the heart to the voice as shavings of anger dripped onto the floor of understanding.
Before the accident Sarah’s life and success was the polar opposite of her “broken, shameful life of her childhood.” Since business school she had “her head down barreling a thousand miles an hour, wearing the flesh of each day down to the bone…pointed down one road toward one goal, a life to envy.” She was out to prove she didn’t need anyone to help her pave the way to success, especially the Mother than abandoned her in a wake of grief. Her injury forced a different road at a different speed limit. “Slow down. Pay attention. The journey is the destination”…and remember, “Home is where you live.”
Lisa Genova treated us with a myriad of subjects to ponder. Mother/daughter relationships, bullying, the frightening and sudden role of the caretaker, the reality and consequences of keeping up with the Joneses, the importance of balance in our everyday lives, and the dangers of being distracted…none of us are immune. Our group commented on the ending – all tied up in a neat package, and how in reality most lives would not have fit so perfectly into place. That’s the beauty of fiction….and if there was a sequel planned, some loose ends would still be dangling.
The resiliency of the human spirit was evident in our candid stories of courage and challenges. We wore the communal shoes of empathy with those who shared and we appreciate the opportunity to peek inside their lives to see how strength of family towers above mere coping. Thanks to everyone for your input and as always, our members, add depth to any discussion!
We are concerned we are getting too genre heavy with our book selections this season so we suggested moving My Reading Life, the Invisible Wall, and The Dream to the recommended reading list and replacing them with The Story of Beautiful Girl, The Good Dream, and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet. The changes are listed below. This will give us an opportunity to check out other recommendations, Rules of Civility, The Wolves of Andover, Dark River Road, and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Melba also read a trilogy by Shayne Parkinson, Promises to Keep, set in New Zealand at the turn of the 19th century (sounds similar to the No Angel series by Penny Vincenzi)
                                    WHITE:                      LIGHT READ
                                    PINK:                         MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                                    RED:                           CHALLENGING

November 13th:           The Tender Bar, A Memoir by J.R. Moehringer
                                    Home of Jane Freer, co-hosted by Cherry Fugitt
                                    Reviewer: Kathy Mueller

December 11th             Bookers Holiday Party
                                    A Young Wife by Pam Lewis & Back When We Were Grownups
                                    by Anne Tyler
                                    Home of Jean Alexander
                                    Reviewer: A Young Wife, Jane Freer, Back When We Were Grownups,
                                                Melanie Prebis
                                    Bonnie Magee, Food Czar

January 8, 2013           The Story of Beautiful Girl, Rachel Simon
Home of Daryl Daniels
Reviewer: TBA (Beverly Dossett original reviewer – recheck)

February 12th               Home of Janet Erwin
                                    Possible Reviewer: Jean Alexander

March 12th                   Home of Charlotte Pechacek
                                    Possible Reviewer: Kimberly Hand

April 9th                       The Good Dream, Donna VanLiere
Home of MN Stanky, co-hosted by Kimberly Hand
                                    Reviewers: MN & JoDee                   

May 14th                      6th Annual Wine & Cheese Evening Meeting            
                                    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet, Jamie Ford
                                    Home of Melanie Prebis
                                    Reviewer: TBA

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