Author: Marsha Cornelius
Published: February 2013 by Hickory Flat Books
Category: Romantic Drama
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.
Many thanks to Marsha Cornelius for sending me a copy
Frank and Chloe, for completely different reasons find themselves homeless. Frank is happy enough on the streets, collecting cans each day to make a little money. After the horrors of fighting and battling to survive in the Vietnam war, he returns to the US disabled and ignored and turns to alcohol and drugs to dull the physical and mental pain. Another homeless man, Randall, helps Frank work through his issues, get dried out and cleaned up. They forge a close friendship.
This morning, he woke to a cold, sluggish fog that has his foot throbbing before he even stood. His only relief was to shift his weight to his toes and keep pressure off the heel. Of course, the gimp walk didn’t do much for his appearance. People already shied away from his long hair and shaggy beard. The shuffling limp and tortured expression convinced onlookers he was a derelict.
Frank makes the most of the little he has, with his good friends and the little community they have built. When all Frank knows is destroyed horrifically and violently one night, and he almost loses his life, he doesn’t know whether he will be able to claw his way back again. Until a chance meeting changes his life forever.
Chloe, after being abandoned by her husband, and with no-one to turn to for help, is left with two children and debts she can’t pay off. After losing her home and all her possessions, she doesn’t know how her life could get any worse. But it can…a whole lot worse.
She could not speak. Reaching out, she took the check from the sheriff’s hand and stared at it as though she might find a number out of place, or something on the small piece of paper that might explain where the money had gone.
Sinking further and further into a pit of despair and hopelessness, Chloe can’t se a way forward. She is at the mercy of a very defective system of shelters, incompetent childcare and predatory men, leaving her emotionally battered and completely drained. Until a helping hand reaches out to pull her back from the brink.
The story is told from both Frank’s and Chloe’s points of view. It brings home the stark reminder that the homeless of this world are actually out there, struggling to survive from day-to-day against sometimes unimaginable odds. Losing it all. How far can one person fall before all hope is gone. This is a fascinating book with wonderfully developing characters and a sometimes harrowing storyline, dealing with the complex issues and situations the homeless can, and more than likely do, face.
I was drawn to Frank immediately, there’s depth and authenticity in his character. He’s had a really rough deal but despite everything he cares about others and does whatever he can to help. Chloe hasn’t had a happy life and, I think partly because of that, chose poorly when it came to a husband and father for her children. The two characters’ lives are interlinked and brought together in a compelling and profound storyline. Their portrayal is genuine, believable and endearing. The writing is accomplished and descriptive with a reality that encompasses so many emotions, hope, love, anguish, misery, all of which shine through the narrative.
A really excellent read which enforces the old adage, never judge a book…You never really know the true story behind a person’s appearance and what events forced them into a certain situation. Or how a single act of kindness can be the start of changing someone’s life for the better.