Losing It promised to be just the kind of story I love: a transformation story. However, a main character who started out so odd killed the potential and the execution for me.
Diana Christopher is miserable. In the prologue to the story, we find out that 32-year old Diana just crashed her car through a restaurant’s window. How did she get here, you wonder. We find out as the book jumps back in time to let the story unfold. For most of her life, Diana’s been miserable. She’s overweight, works in a diner, has no social life, no self-esteem, and a bad relationship with her mother. Her best friend is her 92-year-old neighbor. Her father died when she was little, and that loss affected the direction her life took. She seems to accept her lot in life until a health scare makes her face reality. That and a conversation with her friend and neighbor, Mrs. Bartle, gives her a new direction. Diana’s life begins to change, and as it does, she learns the truth about her past and herself.
Diana’s initially such a pathetic character that it’s hard to root for her. She hates her life and lies to herself and her mother, not doing anything to make herself happier. At 32, she even believes that immaculate conception is possible. The memory of her one sexual experience at age 17 – in the back of a stranger’s truck – is the one memory that makes her feel special. You can really see how rock bottom her life is that the possibility of a tumor makes her look forward to death. At this point, I wanted to leave her to it. However, the very special Mrs. Bartle becomes something of a fairy godmother to Diana, and through their friendship, Diana begins to realize what she wants out of life.
Even as Diana begins to lose weight and change her life, she still retains some of that desperate quality. She’s still down on herself on the inside, proving the changes are merely physical. She begins haunting a popular bar hoping to attract the attention of a great looking pool player.
I wanted to like this woman. I root for the underdog, and Cinderella stories are among my favorites. A humiliating incident that happens to her near the end of the book while heart wrenching, is also unbelievable, particularly from characters not in high school. However, the effects of her bizarre behavior in the beginning of the story just tainted it for me.
The unlikely friendship between Diana and Mrs. Bartle is the best thing about the book. Mrs. Bartle gives her young friend wisdom and a reason to pursue her dreams. Mrs. Bartle is the one person Diana doesn’t want to let down, the one person Diana truly likes in her life. Readers can see how much the two women mean to each other. Mrs. Bartle also proves to be a link between Diana’s past and present that brings her love life full circle, something that gives Diana a reason to keep trying to improve herself, even afte her humiliating experience.
Just as Diana’s life seems to be on the right path, she experiences setbacks and a tragedy that almost stops her progress. Fortunately, she doesn’t let it stop her and gets her happy ending.
Rech gives Diana’s emotions depth. If she had made her slightly more likable in the beginning, this would have been a good book. As it was, I was glad to be done with it. The ending wraps up with a neat little bow, particularly considering how the book began and how much heartache Diana endures, but all things considered, seeing Diana get her HEA was okay with me.