Sunday, June 8, 2014

7 Heart Review: The Conditions of Love by Dale M. Kushner + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Conditions of Love
Dale M. Kushner

Page Count: 367

Release Date: May 14th 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Hachette Book Group)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by tour publicist via publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, TLC and Hachette!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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.

Set in the Midwest in the last years of the fifties and filled with a cast of beguiling, unforgettable characters, this mesmerizing novel traces, in three parts, the ever-changing landscape of love in the life of young Eunice. In the first part, Eunice must reckon with familial love—in this case, from a seductively eccentric mother and an idealized, absent father. The second leg of Eunice's journey to adulthood introduces her to the steadiness of a nurturing love through her relationship with a mysterious stranger named rose. Finally, in the third act, Eunice is initiated into the world of passionate love.

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.
I felt an enormous sadness shoot through my chest, and my eyes burned with tears. It frightened me how much I loved him; I wanted to call him back from wherever he was going, but in a rush of knowledge I realized my daddy was a tricky, dangerous man, and I could never trust his love.

I'm torn over how I feel about this book; on one hand, it indeed is a beautiful portrait of how love manifests in the life of Eunice, but on the other, it moves so lethargically, that oftentimes I found myself zoning out, and even skimming towards the end because I just wanted to be finished. You have to have a lot of patience to appreciate a book like The Conditions of Love.

Because the book is split up into three distinct sections that trace the different types of love Eunice experiences in each one, it was like reading three separate stories, all fluidly interconnected.

The first part, in which Eunice comes to terms with accepting being abandoned by her highly glorified father, reads historically. It will definitely induce nostalgia for children of the fifties, and for any younger generations, it will feel like reading about your own grandmother's childhood—a deeply troubled childhood at that, but nonetheless lushly told. It's a solid introduction to our protagonist, and it moves with stunning detail and clarity.

The second part is languid, almost mystical, and drags on as time does throughout the novel. I love how Kushner paces Eunice's teenage years—in which she learns to love a mother figure of a stranger—to mimic how unhurriedly her own life passes at this sage.

The third part definitely has its exciting, wholly erotic moments, but honestly it was the wordiest for me. I pretty much lost interest in Eunice's keen, but unnecessarily lengthy, observations on everything, and began to skim this section, which is probably why some of the story might be lost on me.

This is hardly a devastating critique, however. Overall, I was highly impressed with Kushner's vivid flourish to a theatrically set, poignant first novel.

Pros


Gorgeously written // Eunice is well versed and lovable // Emotionally turbulent // Strongly personified characters

Cons


Very dense and slow moving (but never boring)

Love

Sam took my hand and looked into my eyes. "Life's a crap shoot, baby. All I know is that the past will kill you if you let it."
This was the way things were. Sam would never stop feeling sad about [his late brother] and I would never stop feeling sad about not having a daddy. You went on missing a person the rest of your life.

Verdict


Dazzlingly detailed, remarkably poised, and wise to its perceptive core, Dale M. Kushner's debut novel is a fictional young woman's autobiographical account of love's grandest entrances and most devastating exits throughout her life. While I was not a huge fan of how slowly the book moved, especially towards the end, I will never forget Eunice's heartbreaks, nor the striking cast of characters. A fascinating following of an ordinary girl's maturation and its extraordinary moments, The Conditions of Love strongly creates a sense of longing for a woman you've only met through paper Americanflag

7 hearts: Not perfect, but overall enjoyable; borrow, don't buy! (x)

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished print copy of The Conditions of Love
—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
When was the first time you experienced love? Interpret this any way you like; it can be familial love, platonic love, or romantic love—just share your story!
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to TLC Book Tours and Hachette Book Group!
Giveaway ends June 22nd at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, rest of the world! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently-running giveaways that are open internationally. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!