Losing Hope - Leslie J. Sherrod
I won this in a First Reads Giveaway.

I liked this book well enough and wish I could give 3 ½ . It's intriguing, captivating, mysterious and suspenseful. It's well written and beautifully so. There's some quotes and moments that I loved that I will included below, but it's hard with context . The characters and setting were realistic, and came alive. I love how this book stays true to the diversity of Baltimore and didn't shy away from including people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and colors. That was a breath of fresh air considering how prominent having an all lily white cast with a token of color is across all kinds of media. I found the social work aspect really pull me since I have experience in this area and many friends in it as well. That was the best part for me. I did identify well with the struggle to separate yourself from your partner, and how things get all twisted. I think the book is well done and I enjoyed the quick read. I was torn through between breezing through it and getting annoyed with boredom for relatively minor things. I think I might be coming back to the next book in the series because it's solid, has more things I like than didn't and the chance of disappointment is low, not for the nagging need to continue that comes with 5 star books. I'm not trying to be harsh. I understand that for other this book will rank higher and for good reason. I just found it to be solid, a bit annoying yet a bit above average.

The main character, Sienna, and indeed every person in the cast is Christian. That's all fine and dandy. I mean really, my culture is dominantly Christian, including a lot of my family and friends. It's not the mere mention of it that deduces from the book. I do respect her for keeping religion apart from her work and clients. I hate how case workers sometimes push or feel religion is necessary. It was mainly how much scripture there is in this book. I found myself yawning and rolling my eyes at such passages since I'm not Christian, nor religious. I just couldn't connect with that aspect of Sienna. I understand and have grappled with faith before, so I get what she was going through, I just didn't find these parts compelling. However, I was able to connect and like Sienna for other things and aspects in her character. I just didn't like having to read all those psalms and such. I know it was important to Sienna and her character to detail the bible verses, even paragraphs at a time, but I skimmed those.

The only part of Sienna I didn't really get was her issues and struggles with social justice. I get her struggles with her husband being gone for his work in social justice but she seemed to have issues with the very meaning of social justice and it's purpose. During one of these pondering flashback moments, she talks about a service in a remote village she went to with her husband, RiChard, for his work. RiChard brings up a good point about Christians coming into places to settle, civilize and preach. True, that service was peaceful and the people participating willing but that's not always the case, even today. It felt odd that she brought up the crusades being instances of this in the past but not slavery. It's not just ancient history either, that was rather dismissive and you'd think she'd keep up with current events all things considered. There are plenty of people who cling Christian ideology to justify their bigotry and persecution complex. There are also plenty of places to look at right now today if you want to see what would happen should the Right Wing Christians got what they want in regards to women rights, gay rights, etc. It's not a pretty picture. This instance is really minor though, a mere moment in this 400 page book that doesn't detract much, just illustrates why I was disconnected from Sienna in regards to faith.

I liked the mystery part of the book. I think it was done well, though it didn't really knock my socks off. I saw some of it coming and was leaning toward other explanations. There were a couple of things that bugged me, that I will duly put behind a spoiler. Why is Sienna not wondering and questioning Sheena? Several times now Sheena has been contacted with threats regarding Sienna, yet Sienna never wonders why her and how did they get Sheena's phone number? Alva is getting money mysteriously to keep things afloat and quiet regarding Dayonna. Sheena is talking about money and telling Sienna to stop risking all their jobs. Then Sienna easily dismisses Roland from suspect. I found all that hard to believe. Clearly, more is going on with the RiChard aspect of the story line but I don't think this one is all resolved either. Or at least I'm not buying these parts of the solution being hand waved away or forgotten.

Notes & Quotes
On pg. 93,
"The reality of a life addicted."
It was impacting due to the whole scene and several pages. This sentence just made me think "We're all addicted. From technology to religion, everyone uses something to get through. Just like drugs."

Onpg. 198, again due to the scene and the dancing drug high woman described before hand this part hit me.
"...it was impossible to miss the multitude of broken lives trapped and dancing in desperation to the rhythm of the drug trade."

This, on pg. 293, is so true.
"Like I told you, times are different now than when I first founded Holding Hands almost thirty years ago. Back then it was more acceptable to help the most vulnerable. People and corporations were always willing to give out donations that assisted those in need. With the shift toward viewing the poor as somehow evil or lazy and solely responsible for their own fates, funds for social programs for people who need it most have dried up. Budgets have been slashed. Policies have been changed. So many nonprofits and community agencies have had to close their doors."

pg. 327, The suspenseful moment waiting for the mysterious man in the dark where he shouldn't be, didn't hit me. I kept thinking if he was going to attack he would have, duh. I was curious to find out the truth behind the shadows but wasn't really feeling any danger during the whole book.