Several months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Sharon Butala after brazenly contacting her to ask if she would write a back cover blurb for my upcoming book, The Boy. Sharon graciously agreed, and when we met and talked about writing, she told me that her sister and I shared the experience of social work and in particular of child protection work. I was intrigued to hear that Deanna, too, had a book of short stories published in 2008, and as with me her experience spilled into her writing. In fact, her book explored the world of the front-line child protection worker. I sent Deanna an email and suggested an exchange of books. A week later, No Easy Answers was in my mailbox. Frances Itani’s words of praise are on the book cover:
Lueder’s writing shines with quiet compassion, even while evoking grim reality. Always direct, never sentimental, these stories give an insider’s view of the costs and rewards of working with bleak but never entirely hopeless lives—especially the lives of children who find themselves on the fringes of society.
I have found it difficult in my own writing to release myself from the years of working in child welfare programs. Not nearly so many years as Deanna Lueder’s long career in this heartbreaking profession, but long enough that I read No Easy Answers with my heart responding every time Lexie, the social worker in Deanna’s work of fiction was assigned a new case.
I dedicated my first novel Running Toward Home, to children in care and the foster parents and social workers who keep them safe. “Lexie” is exactly the social worker I had in mind. I believe that all of the helping professions are fraught with the difficulty that no matter which way a tough decision is made, there is human fall-out. I can’t do better than Deanna Lueder’s words in explaining why this is an important book. From the Afterword to No Easy Answers:
“I’ve gradually come to believe that the basic characteristics of a competent social worker are formed in childhood: respect, empathy, compassion, and intuition (the famous “flinch factor”). … I hope that the writing will give credence to a much-maligned profession and reveal to the reader that it is indeed a worthwhile one, not to be dismissed as mere “do-gooding” or as a job of unrelieved doom and gloom. Social work is a profession that is perfect for the curious learner, the optimist, the communicator, and the lover of life.”
This is an important book, and I am grateful to Deanna Lueder for having written it.
No Easy Answers by Deanna Lueder ISBN 978-0-88961-465-9 Women’s Press, an Imprint of Canadian Scholars’ Press, Toronto