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LOSING ISAIAH by Seth Margolis


by Seth Margolis

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1993
ISBN: 1-56282-807-X
Publisher: Hyperion

 Margolis attempts to follow the success of novels like The Good Mother and Kramer vs. Kramer with this domestic melodrama featuring a two-year-old black child, his birth mother from the projects, and his white, well-to-do adoptive parents--but with stock characters and an aloof, schematic writing style, his intriguing premise arrives still-born. Margaret Lewin loves her adoptive son, Isaiah, even more passionately than she does her natural daughter, Hannah, probably because of the unique, magical way Isaiah joined the family. A volunteer baby-holder in a Manhattan hospital, whose job was to lavish physical affection on abandoned, drug-addicted infants, Margaret fell in love with tiny Isaiah's determination to get what he needed--first through unceasing screaming, and now, at nearly three, through tantrums that could cause Attila the Hun to cower. Leaving Isaiah to the care of a children's center and an au pair while she pursues her career as a photographer's representative (and her husband, Charles, pursues a leggy female employee at his own graphic-arts company), Margaret alternately worries over possible lingering aftereffects from Isaiah's prenatal drug addiction and swoons in relief at having rescued the little boy from life with a crack-addicted, illiterate, utterly negligent mother. Little does Margaret know that over the past two years Isaiah's mother, Selma Richards, has found religion, weaned herself from drugs, and obtained a job as a nanny on the Upper East Side in the fierce hope of reclaiming her lost son. When Selma files suit for custody, the lives of all concerned begin to crumble in the cruel light of media coverage, while the best interests of Isaiah himself are nearly forgotten in the clash of emotions. Shifting from Margaret's to Selma's to Charles's to Isaiah's and other points of view, Margolis (False Faces, 1991, etc.) prevents the reader from identifying deeply with any one side, making this more an abstract intellectual exercise than a compelling work of fiction.