Left Neglected Discussion Questions

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

''Left Neglected'' is a novel by Lisa Genova about relationships, neglect, and life with a medical condition. These questions can help guide your students through a discussion on these ideas and the major themes of the novel.

Left Neglected

Left Neglected is a 2011 novel by American author Lisa Genova about a woman who suffers a brain injury in a car crash and ends up with left neglect, where the right side of the brain is not fully functional and therefore the left side of the body has very limited use. Left Neglected has been lauded for its complex characters and treatment of real medical conditions, so there's a lot that students are likely to find engaging in this novel. The following questions are designed to help facilitate a class discussion on the characters, plot, and themes of Left Neglected.

Questions about Characters

  • Who is the main protagonist of Left Neglected? How are we introduced to Sarah? What do we learn about her in the first part of the novel? How would you describe her personality? What scenes or events in the story make this clear?
  • Author Lisa Genova has a degree in neuroscience. Is this evident in the way she presents and discusses neurological disorders? How do you think her background influenced the novel? How do you think it helped her create characters that feel like they're dealing with real medical issues in realistic ways? Why is this important?
  • Who is Bob Nickerson? How is he introduced? How is he similar to Sarah? How is he different? What is their marriage like? How does he respond to Sarah's accident and condition? How does this impact their marriage?
  • What is Sarah's relationship like with her mother? Why are they estranged? How is this introduced in the novel? Why do you think the author does this? What does Sarah begin to learn from her mother?
  • How does the author show us the changes in a character's emotions, personality, or psychology? What do you think of Genova's characterizations? How do characters change throughout the novel? Are they in the same emotional and personal place that they were at the start? Who changes the most? How so? Why?

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