Thursday, July 4, 2013

UNCONDITIONAL: A Novel by Eva Marie Everson

UNCONDITIONAL: A Novel by Eva Marie Everson
(U.S. link: Unconditional )
Published: August 2012,  B&H Books

Years after her husband was killed, Samantha Crawford still has been unable to move through the agony and utter despair of her loss. On the anniversary of his unsolved murder, Sam dresses in his clothes, takes his gun and returns to the alley where he was shot, so she can end her suffering. But the panicked screams of a child jolt her into action and she finds herself racing a young boy and his injured little sister to the emergency room instead.

Sam is stunned when her childhood friend, Joe Bradford, shows up at the hospital, picking up the children. They haven't seen each other in about twenty years. Joe, Papa Joe as he is known around the Commons, runs a drop-in centre of sorts for the kids in the Commons, together with his neighbour Denise. Growing up poor as an African American kid, without a father, he knows from experience how difficult it is to stay on track and keep trying to do the right thing, so he does what he can to make the kids feel they have a safe place with people who care.

Wen Sam sees what Joe is doing with the children, she slowly feels some light ceeping back into her heart and little by little she finally starts letting go of the sharp grief that has held her prisoner. She discovers Joe is fighting a battle of his own with a devastating kidney condition, and learns through it all he still has so much to give and to share. Through Joe, Denise and the children, Sam is finding renewed faith and purpose in her life and her old passion writing children's books is rekindled.


This is a lovely, uplifting story!

I truly enjoyed the storyline, it was very compelling and contemporary, although I suspect a tad too 'clean' to be very realistic in terms of gang-related life, or living in a projects-like setting as the 'Commons' in this story. However, this is intended to be a hopeful story, and so we should be allowed to look through slightly pink tinted glasses.

As for the characters, I think I may have connected with Joe the best. He was the one we got to know well through background and context. On the other hand the main character, Samantha, seems to exist in a vacuum, there is no real context except for her deceased husband. No friends or family, aside for a one-time brief mention of her parents, she is the only character in the story without any social existence aside from the storyline. That made her seem unreal, even understanding the depth of her grief, it didn't make sense. No man (or woman) is an island.

The book is very well written, very easy to read and definitely a heart-warming story!!

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