Cover image for Losing Louisa
Losing Louisa
Caseley, Judith.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, [1999]

Physical Description:
235 pages ; 22 cm
Sixteen-year-old Lacey worries about the effect of her parents' divorce on her family, especially her mother, and about her older sister's sexual activity, which may have made her pregnant.
General Note:
"Frances Foster books"
Reading Level:
780 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.2 9.0 32479.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.1 14 Quiz: 21250 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Lacy gets a crash course on life, love, and families Lacey Levine's family has changed since her parents' divorce. Her mother has turned into a health-food fanatic who wears tight clothes and goes out on dates with a guy named Vinnie. Her father is remarried, and his new wife has just had a baby. Lacey is struggling with the changes and trying to sort out her own crush on a jerk named David when she finds out her older sister, Rosie -- smart Rosie, cheerleader Rosie, Rosie with the angelic singing voice -- is pregnant. At first, it is Lacey alone who supports Rosie as she tries to decide what to do, but soon it becomes a family affair. Abortion seems the right choice until Rosie spends time with her new half sister and starts to think about the baby growing inside her, and even gives her a name -- Louisa. As the family draws together in helping Rosie sort out her options, Lacey discovers that, no matter how it may be configured, family is family. Judith Caseley has written a tender novel about sisters, decisions, and love in its many forms.

Author Notes

Judith Caseley was born in the small town of Winfield, New Jersey, a converted army development. She went to Syracuse University and majored in English, but felt she never would get all of the reading done because she worked in the cafeteria. I switched into art in my sophomore year. During her four years in college, she never took a single course in illustration or writing. Ten years later, from greeting cards to gallery work, she became an author and illustrator of children's books. She worked part-time as a receptionist for years until she could support herself. Much of Judith's work is semi-autobiographical. She takes small events from her life or from the lives of her children, and fictionalize them. "Field Day Friday" was based on her son Michael's field day, when his new sneaker fell off in the middle of the race. Judith wrote "Praying to A.L." while my father was dying of Alzheimer's Disease. It is a book that is close to her heart. It deals with loss, death, and rebirth.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 8^-12. Anger, grief, and love fuel this contemporary family novel that swings from farce to tenderness. The story is told from the viewpoint of Lacey Levine, 16, who sometimes finds herself switching roles with her divorced mother, Leonora. A self-admitted talk-show addict, Leonora is broken-hearted, furiously assertive, and profane, cursing her ex-husband and everything else and behaving like a teenager who agonizes about her boobs and what to wear on a date. Lacey surprises her older sister, Rosie, having sex in the basement, and when smart, cheerleader Rosie becomes pregnant, first Lacey and finally the whole family (including Mom, Grandma, and divorced Dad) try to help Rosie decide whether to get an abortion. Lacey barely has time to concentrate on her own life, getting over a crush on a jerk and slowly falling in love with sweet, vulnerable Rob. The Jewish family members are drawn with warmth and candor and no false reverence. They are not religious (the only reason Mom doesn't buy bacon is because "she's too damned health-conscious"). With all the comic invective and talk-show dramatics, there are scenes of surprising gentleness: when Lacey babysits a toddler, when Rob talks of his mother's death, when Grandma strokes Rosie's hand "with work-worn fingers wearing gaudy rings." The dialogue flashes with wit and warmth as tension builds to Rosie's agonizing choice about her pregnancy. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Told from the point of view of a younger sister, this drama depicting the effects of teen pregnancy on a family reveals a keen authorial intelligence, but its weaknesses ultimately outweigh its promise. Caseley (Kisses) deftly introduces a raft of conflicts as she focuses on Lacey, a normal-enough 16-year-old with a steady baby-sitting job, a best friend who wears black lipstick, and a crush on a jerk. Lacey is shocked when she walks in on her older sister Rosie, a classic "good girl," doing "it" with her boyfriend; Lacey rolls her eyes when her mom, known for her sharp thinking, turns to jelly as she prepares for dates with her first post-divorce boyfriend. Caseley juggles the various story lines with impressive ease, and some characterizations are superb, the mother's in particular. But when Rosie confides to Lacey that she is pregnant, the novel begins to slip. Lacey and Rosie's relationship feels vague, even as Lacey accompanies Rosie to a family-planning clinic and gets information about abortion, and even after Lacey and Rosie share the intense experience of baby-sitting for their father and stepmother's days-old daughter. Her maternal instincts dramatically awakened by her new half-sister, Rosie announces she is going to keep the baby; a chapter or two later, she decides on an open adoption. It's too cozy and neat a solution for the complex family portrait Caseley has drawn. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Lacey's mother is a health-food addict; her older sister Rosie is "Miss Perfect Preppie." Lacey's dad and new wife are expecting a baby. Lacey, struggling with the changes wrought by her parents' divorce, has a crush on David, a boy even her best friend calls a jerk. Fortunately, a beer party reveals the real David to Lacey. Being 16 isn't easy, and when Lacey discovers angelic Rosie having sex with her boyfriend, she feels like an alien. When Rosie becomes pregnant, Lacey takes on the new roles of protector and supporter. Mom has to be told, and Grandma joins the fray. Even Dad takes part as the Levines draw together, and Lacey discovers that family is family no matter what. With humor and a light touch, Caseley realistically portrays teens, their loves, their friendships, and their insecurities. Readers will identify with a story that could be set in Any High School, U.S.A. Tough decisions require tough discussions, and the abortion vs. adoption scene is well done. Never maudlin or didactic, Caseley's novel is a story of love, family, and the resilience of the spirit.-Gail Richmond, San Diego Unified Schools, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.