cover image Losing Isaiah

Losing Isaiah

Seth J. Margolis. Hyperion Books, $22.45 (374pp) ISBN 978-1-56282-807-3

Recent headline-making custody cases are echoed in this contrived, yet provocative book. Selma Richards, black, illiterate and drug-addicted, sold her premature baby boy Isaiah to Margaret and Charles Lewin, an affluent white couple, for $25,000. Two and a half years later, Selma has turned her life around: she is drug-free, employed, learning to read--and she wants her son back. But Isaiah is now a cherished part of the Lewin family and they will not give him up easily. Using the connections of her sympathetic reading tutor, Selma hires a powerful attorney, and a bitter custody case begins. What is in Isaiah's best interests? A strong cultural identity? Emotional and material security? Mystery writer Margolis ( Disappearing Acts ) turns a sharp eye on the legal system, the media and the less savory side of family life. Selma's pompous and self-serving attorney has his own reasons for taking her case. Charles unwisely begins an affair with a seductive co-worker. And Selma is pressured into adopting a deceptive life style. The message of the book is manipulatively delivered, some passages seem extraneous and the frequent switches in point of view are a blow to cohesion. Nonetheless, the story is generally engrossing and, to its credit, offers no pat answers to complicated issues. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selection. (Oct.)