5 out of 5 stars
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Unseen Lives follows the story of Alice, a young mother of three small children, who is trying her best to provide for her family in spite of a support system that seems to want her to fail. Her story intersects with another victim, Bobby, who spent years in foster care, and he just can't manage to overcome that stigma.
James Cornell, the author, had a 35-year career in social service. This book, although fictional, exposes the difficulties for families as they struggle to keep their dignity. The scenarios might seem unbelievable, but they are based on actual incidents. Cornell wrote the book to educate people, who have never actually known anyone who was miserably poor, about the level of desperation these people experience.
The twenty-six chapters alternate between seven different characters. Each chapter is titled with the name of that person, so keeping track is easy. The book contains 115 pages, it is listed as a novella, and the simple writing style is easy to read. One character, Danielle, is a caseworker; through this story, we experience her frustration and helplessness as she tries to get aid for her clients.
The book opens with a preface that is depressing, but it is also somewhat hopeful. The book ends with an afterword. Cornell explains the difference between a non-literary ending and a literary one. The author hopes that everyone will have the ability to meet the challenges that life puts before them.
I admired the strength of the character of Alice. I was touched by the compassion of the character of Larry. I learned that many people could be just a paycheck away from being in the same situation as the characters in this book. Cornell has given insight into the lives of these unseen people. In addition, he is giving all proceeds of his book to help children in need. Plus, he is offering a money-back guarantee if you don't like the book. I doubt that the author will be refunding any money because there is nothing that I did not like, and I am sure that will be true for others as well. I found no reason to rate this any lower than five out of five stars.
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