Author: Marsha Cornelius
Publish Date: April 1st, 2013
Genres: Adult, Fiction
Frank Barnes is content living on the streets of Atlanta. A soup kitchen and a makeshift shanty sure beat his days as a POW in Vietnam. But Chloe Roberts can’t handle the eviction that sends her into the hell of homelessness. With no family or friends to turn to, Chloe and her children are sucked into the traumatic world of night shelters, and dangerous predators.
When they bump into each other at the soup kitchen, Frank offers Chloe a glimmer of hope that she can pull her life back together. She rekindles his lost sense of self-worth by taking his mind off his own problems. But they will not meet again until Frank is riding high as a working man, and Chloe has hit rock bottom.
By helping Chloe rebuild her broken life, Frank banishes the demons from his own past. Unfortunately, the past comes strolling back into their lives, threatening to destroy the happiness they have finally found.
Losing It All follows the stories of U.S. Vietnam veteran, Frank, who was left unemployed and homeless after the war, and Chloe, a young, married woman with two small children and a husband who has her. Both characters, finding themselves on the streets, grapple with emotional and mental challenges throughout the novel, constantly seeking a way to escape their current living conditions and pave a better life for themselves. When their separate tales intertwine, they each serve as a source of hope for the other, allowing them to overcome their challenging pasts.
I haven’t read many books featuring such a large array of homeless characters, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Cornelius, however, did an excellent job immortalizing such a prevalent and universal theme in her writing, exposing many of the challenges posed by a life on the streets. Frank is able to make the most of his situation, satisfied with only basic necessities. Upon realizing that he has the power to dictate his future, Frank secures a job as a stablehand, moving into and renovating a nearby house. Chloe, similarly, is evicted from her apartment and forced to rebuild her life while simultaneously caring for her children. With a bit of assistance from Frank along the way, she is able to pick up the pieces and start anew.
Cornelius did an excellent job with both of the main character’s characterization, portraying their physical and emotional development throughout the novel. She accurately portrayed their grief and senses of helplessness as they struggled to adapt to change. Most importantly, Cornelius stressed their necessary reliance upon one another.
I was quite surprised by the number of unexpected twists and turns. For the most part, the plot left me on my toes. One of my only complaints was the cliche horse theme that was introduced in the latter half of the novel. Upon receiving a job as a stablehand, Frank immediately befriends the nasty, ornery horse that intentionally raises hell for every other character in the book…except for Frank, of course. Through their daily interactions and training sessions, Frank tames the seemingly untamable gelding, astonishing his employers. From the moment horses were introduced, I could tell that it would simply be a rehashing of the most common and significantly overused equestrian plot, which has gotten a bit old at this point. There were also a few inaccuracies regarding horse care and training which the average reader likely would not have picked up (I’ll admit, I am nitpicking a bit here).
Overall, Losing It All was a quick, but enlightening read. It stresses the importance of not judging a man’s character based upon his physical appearance, but upon his actions, a lesson which all of us tend to forget from time to time.
Note: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.