Losing it All – Marsha Cornelius – 4.5 stars
I won this book as part of a competition on Confessions of a Book Geek, so thank you so much to Rachel and Marsha! I always get a bit nervous about this sort of thing, because people know you have the book – what if you don’t enjoy it?
Luckily, I had absolutely nothing to worry about – I loved this book to bits and read it in three sittings.
Set in Atlanta, ‘Losing It All’ follows the stories of an ex-soldier – Frank – and a young mother abandoned in financial difficulty by her husband. They both find themselves living on the streets, and in horrific circumstances, and have to begin the fight to rebuild their lives. This isn’t just a book about homelessness, or finding your feet; it’s a really fantastic story, beautiful for its gritty tragedy.
The writing is sleek and well crafted, and I love how perceptive Ms Cornelius is. Her characters are wonderful – they drag you into their world, and force you to face up to whatever insidious stereotypes we might have been holding on to. They are so credible, and their struggles and triumphs are profoundly moving to. There was a point that confused me when Frank had the three year old girl playing a card game, but maybe that’s just me underestimating the game-playing capacity of a child that age.
The book is so thorough, and has obviously been really well researched, and yet all of this is balanced with beautiful story-telling. It has heart, and that makes it special.
I did get a little nervous about the introduction of horses into the story – I can’t remember the last time I read a ‘horse story’ that wasn’t cliche and disappointing. This book dabbles a little in the plot points we’re used to, and them tramples them and makes its own path. Kudos to you, Marsha – I loved it.
The powerful themes of family, abuse, trust and – as the title may suggest – loss, are incredibly effective, and dealt with both candidly and tastefully. Some parts of the story are not easy to read, but the balance is there, and it serves to make the ending more breathtaking.
I’m in love with this story, and I look forward to returning for a re-read in a few months!
If you’ve read it too, or plan to, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!