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"Teachable Moments" Are Within Each and Every Book You Read!


Life is full of “teachable moments.” “You learn something new every day” is my mantra.

If you’re an avid reader, you know this phrase to be true. Even if what you normally read is fiction, there’s always a grain of truth and a lesson or two in each story.

In a previous article, I had described a book written by Lisa Genova entitled, “Left Neglected,” using the blurb from the front of the book to explain the story. After writing it up, I decided to check the book out from the Jasper County Public Library and read it myself, and found it to be one “teachable moment” after another.

The story revolves around Sarah Nickerson, a “yuppie” who has it all; a high powered job as the vice president of a human resources firm, three children, involved in sports and other recreational activities, a wonderful, supportive husband, who is also an overachiever in his chosen career, and a beautiful home in a well-to-do Boston suburb, as well as a house in Vermont.

Having it all, however, comes at a price, and Sarah finds that out one rainy day while multitasking on her way to a meeting, texting and driving at 70 miles per hour straight into a line of traffic that has come to a complete stop. Totaling her car and waking up in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury, Sarah is shocked to find that the left side of everything, including her body, has literally disappeared off of her radar.

She is suffering from “Left Neglect,” a syndrome that entails much physical therapy to restore the left half of everything, including things we take for granted every day; the food on the left half of her plate, anyone seated to the left of her, even the left half of her own face is devoid of makeup after she’s sure she’s covered all ground during her usual makeup routine. During her therapy and recovery, her husband, Bob, needs help with their three children and calls in Sarah’s mother. Sarah has unresolved issues with her mother, feeling neglected herself during her childhood after her only brother, Nate, drowned in a friend’s pool at a young age, leaving her mother so depressed and guilt ridden that she couldn’t bring herself to care for her remaining child and husband.

Sarah’s recovery is slow, and the author does a fabulously hilarious job of describing in detail one comical misadventure after another as Sarah accepts her Left Neglect, along with the help of her mother, healing both her body and psyche as she comes to fully understand her mother’s longstanding depression and her own shortcomings as well.

After reading the book, I looked up “Left Neglect” and discovered that it is a real medical condition, brought on by stroke, or other injury to the brain. Want to learn more? Check out these other new fiction titles from JCPL.

John and Laura Foster are aboard a steamship headed straight for a hurricane on the Atlantic coast, and are faced with the terrifying possibility of being separated when the women and children on the ship are evacuated to another ship. “Deepest Waters” by Dan Walsh is set in a pre-Civil war era, and is based on the true-life sinking of the SS Central America, carrying a payload of gold. This character-driven novel is full of historical events as well as drama and adventure, containing subplots along with the main storyline.

Professional home stager, Sandy Sullivan, is quite an expert at taking a cluttered space in a home and turning it into a cozy and attractive living area, ripe for selling. Sandy’s career as a home stager is the easy part of her life; one she can change with a dash of paint and proper placement of furniture. Her personal life, however, is sorely lacking the same pizzazz as her work life. Living in a suburb of Boston along with a “back burner” husband and a grown son who has turned their basement into a “bat cave,” Sandy takes a job in Atlanta staging a boutique recently acquired by her best friend’s boyfriend. In “Best Staged Plans” by Claire Cook, you’ll recognize the characters to be believable enough to be your own next door neighbors, and the storyline full of not only fun twists and turns, but great tips and tricks for fixing up any humble abode.

Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but by reading these or any other of the new, fiction titles on the shelves of your local Jasper County Public Library, you’ll be sure to experience a “Confucius” moment; “You cannot open a book without learning something.”