Losing Me. Sue Margolis. Penguin Group (USA). July 2015. 384 pp. ISBN#: 9780451471840.
Barbara Stirling is almost sixty years old and is now being ousted from her job as a special education teacher due to budget cuts. It’s a huge loss to the school as she is very good at what she does and really cares about these kids who come from homes rife with poverty, abuse, violence, starvation and just plain neglect. Some parents don’t care and others are quite realistically doing the best they can which means their children suffer from a number of physical and emotional problems that affect any, if not all, learning. Barbara clearly cares and goes above and beyond the call of duty to help wherever and however she can. Harder still, she takes her job home and worries about her “kids,” but she gets very little feedback from her husband, another story in itself.
Barbara is also worried who went to college but has been unable to get a job. Her daughter is an ecology fanatic who is about to begin using cloth toilet rags in place of toilet roll, quite a gross idea although it is certainly admirable in purpose. Add to that she has a friend who admits she’s got a lousy sex life with her husband but uses sex gigolos to satisfy her avid desires. Money is tight at home and hubby Frank is only caught up in his film job which doesn’t pay so well. The real issue is his semi-concerned feedback to Barbara about her job and needs. Not even when she begins to suffer panic attacks does he really respond in the way she needs. Mom is the queen of criticism, hardly an asset in Barbara’s decomposing world.
Before her job concludes, Barbara becomes involved in the life of Troy, one of her students who is clearly being abused but who won’t answer questions. This then is the story of her intervention and how Troy’s world gives her purpose and direction, and it also enables her to learn to speak up and call things as she sees them. Transformation comes about with determination and challenging those who prefer to complain but not much beyond that.
There are several issues of importance in this novel which Margolis treats with both seriousness and levity, where appropriate. The characters are so very real in far too many families, and the author handles each issue honestly and clearly, including the apathy of co-existence which is symptomatic of so much emotional distress in the world.
Very nicely crafted, Sue Margolis and recommended for all readers! Hope lies eternal!