The Conditions of Love {Book Review}


Published Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Author: Dale M. Kushner
Pages: 384
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

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. – Summary from Goodreads

*Thank you Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review*

The first thing that drew me to this book was the hand-lettering on the cover, it’s so fluid and lovely. Then you have the parakeet perched on a home that’s underwater, which leaves you wondering, “WHAT IN THE HECK IS THIS BOOK ABOUT!?” I’ll tell you what it’s about, it’s about the many, varying conditions of love. I know, so original but true nonetheless.

In this novel we meet Eunice, a bright child with a sweet disposition living with her mother, Mern, who is pretty much on track for being the most self-centered mom on the planet. It’s a rather sad situation. Over the course of three parts, we experience the indescribable journey that is Eunice’s life. From father’s abandonment {again!}, her mother’s failed relationship, a move to a new town, natural disasters, feral friends, and a questionable relationship with an older man that isn’t without drama.

I try not to include too many spoilers as I believe a review should be a skimming of the deets without giving everything away. So I apologize if I’ve said too much. I really liked this book. Kushner’s writing is so lyrical and I was drawn in immediately. I loved young Eunice and her outlook on life. She felt so real to me. As she got older, she kind of got on my nerves but again, she was a teenager and let’s face it! Teenagers can B annoying. I also loved Eunice Turtle! This turtle is Eunice’s best friend and their relationship melts your heart. The only thing I didn’t like was the way the very ending was set up. I felt that I could’ve done without it. But, whatevs. All in all, this was a brilliant debut novel! Well done, Dale!

So, if you’re looking for a book that will make you have the feels, make you thankful for having a mom who cared about you more than herself, and might make you uncomfortable at times, then this is your book!!

Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and The Book Depository.


8 thoughts on “The Conditions of Love {Book Review}

  1. I’d be delighted to translate…”The feels” is another way of saying emotions/feelings. Depending on the context “the feels” can be happy, sad, heart warming/wrenching (depending), etc. When I say “all the feels” that means said book is a roller coaster of emotions, it hits you with every high and low. Hope that helped 🙂

    • You’re welcome:)
      Yep! Pretty much. If a book has the feels or gives me the feels, then I’ve felt something (one way or another) that touched me emotionally.

  2. I was magically attracted by the cover as well! I’m really glad you enjoyed this book cuz I got the book through Netgalley, too and can’t wait to read it after having seen your review 🙂

    • Isn’t it so yummy?? I just love it. Yay, I’m so glad you got this one. I’ll be watching for your review. I think I’m going to get this one in paperback so I can have the physical copy 🙂 it’s just so pretty.

  3. Thanks so much for the fabulous review of my novel The Conditions of Love, and for spreading the word about it. Word-of-mouth is so important for a novel’s success.
    And, ah… love is always complicated. As I writer, it’s the most compelling subject, especially the often searing relationship between mothers and daughters. Parakeets (Mr. Puccini on the cover) and turtles (Eunice Turtle) help to ease our sorrow when life feels overwhelming, but like Eunice, I do believe we find our own resiliency as we evolve. Thanks again for your great words. Dale Kushner

    • Wow! Thank you, Dale! I know you’re busy but to take time out to not only read my review but to comment is awesome;) I loved this novel and plan on buying a physical copy for my shelf as I plan on rereading this one!

      You’re right, love is always complicated and you did an incredible job of showing us what love can do to the human spirit. Mr. Puccini and Eunice Turtle were my favorites! Thank you again for commenting. This made my day 🙂

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