Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: The Conditions of Love

From Goodreads: Dale M. Kushner's novel The Conditions of Love traces the journey of a girl from childhood to adulthood as she reckons with her parents' abandonment, her need to break from society's limitations, and her overwhelming desire for spiritual and erotic love. In 1953, ten-year-old Eunice lives in the backwaters of Wisconsin with her outrageously narcissistic mother, a manicureeste and movie star worshipper. Abandoned by her father as an infant, Eunice worries that she will become a misfit like her mother. When her mother's lover, the devoted Sam, moves in, Eunice imagines her life will finally become normal. But her hope dissolves when Sam gets kicked out, and she is again alone with her mother. A freak storm sends Eunice away from all things familiar. Rescued by the shaman-like Rose, Eunice's odyssey continues with a stay in a hermit's shack and ends with a passionate love affair with an older man. Through her capacity to redefine herself, reject bitterness and keep her heart open, she survives and flourishes. In this, she is both ordinary and heroic. At once fable and realistic story, The Conditions of Love is a book about emotional and physical survival. Through sheer force of will, Eunice saves herself from a doomed life. 

This engaging examination of a mother and daughter's relationship will appeal to the same audience that embraced Mona Simpson's acclaimed classic Anywhere But Here and Elizabeth Strout's bestselling Amy and Isabelle.

My thoughts: This is a beautifully written story about a young woman's odds to overcome the circumstances of her childhood.  A debut novel that follows Eunice from a turbulent childhood into adulthood, The Conditions of Love is at its core a reminder to keep your heart open to love.  Eunice's life is touched by a variety of relationships that shape her thoughts, heart and overall being. This novel is very character driven and an absolutely engaging read.  At a few points in the book the love scenes felt a bit much but over all the defining relationships -- both emotional and physical contribute to the overall theme of the story. 

I read this story quickly and would like to go back and reread. The writing flows so effortlessly, the words so vivid and smart, I was whisked away with the words and the story line.  The Conditions of Love Received a TLA Lariat Award nomination for Outstanding Adult Fiction in 2013 and its not hard to understand why. I enjoyed reading this novel and if literary novels appeal to you, I'm betting this one will too. 

Disclaimer: I was provided this book for review from TLC Book Tours and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.