Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius

Title: Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius
Publisher: Hickory Flat Books
Release Date: March 8, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, Romance
Medium: Paperback, Received For Review (Thanks Marsha!)

Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius is one of my favorite novels ever. It was painfully realistic, interesting and dramatic, and full of romance and plot twists that you never see coming. Honestly, this novel is a roller coaster from beginning to end, a gripping and edge-of-your-seat novel that is so painstakingly real, you are entranced from page one. Addicting and one of the most realistic contemporaries I have ever read, this novel takes hold of both your mind and heart and takes you on an emotional ride.

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.

The plot is fantastic. As I have previously said several times by now, this novel is both tragically and beautifully realistic. It perfectly showcases the ups and downs of basic human life and displays relationships and flawed lives in flawless clarity. There is no sugar-coating in this novel. It plainly tells the truth, not trying to make the blows of life any easier. Several touchy subjects are confronted in this novel, including divorce, rape, war, and especially the subject of the homeless and those in women's shelters. These subjects are carefully weaved into this novel, so that several topics are covered, many that will change your mind and leave you questioning. Both the topic of returning Vietnam soldiers and those who are living homeless on the streets resonated deeply with me, and left me with newfound knowledge. These weren't the only things in this novel that made me rethink, but they were two of the most prominent. The plot is perfectly paced and flowing so that you are never bored and never confused on what is going on. It's intriguing, educational, and full of emotion and a rawness so shocking, it's hard to imagine how the author came to compose this novel.

The characters were some of the most deeply interesting characters I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Frank's character was one I was instantly enamored by. He starts out kind of questionable; he's known as a bum on the streets, when actually it is much deeper than that. Once a star football player with his life going great for him, it wasn't long until he was drafted into Vietnam. When he got back home, not only was he met with the nation's anger and scorn, he was also faced with the fact that his life was going downhill. He ended up on the streets trying to survive. Dynamic, funny, romantic, and a very caring person, you find much more to Frank then one would first thing. This is because of the amazing character development you find throughout the entire novel. Chloe, the other side of the story, is also a very interesting character to experience. Her character begins as a troubled mom who can never stick up for herself and is left homeless and alone with her two children after her husband runs off and leaves her with nothing. Evicted from their apartment, Chloe and the kids are forced to stay in a women's shelter and face many more challenges before crossing paths with Frank... And everything changes. Truly interesting, addicting, and both having a part in a simply emotional and complicated relationship, these characters will always leave you wanting more.

The writing was absolutely amazing and everything I had been wanting. Cornelius writes with the mind-blowing capability to copy reality to paper almost effortlessly, and show real and raw human emotion. It's real writing, not forced or fake, but true. There's no "filler" type writing, no unnecessary wordiness, no lengthy passages that seem to drag on forever and forever... Every word is vital to the plot and conveys its meaning perfectly. I really can't say much more than the fact that Cornelius harness fantastic writing ability and a complete understanding of reality and human emotions.

Overall, this novel is an exciting and emotional tour de force, full of completely unexpected plot twists and true life situations. The writing is clearly there, the plot is fantastic, and the novel will quickly become a favorite of yours. Five stars, without a doubt.

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