Reviewer: Susie Finkbeiner Source:
B&H Publishing Group
Eva Marie Everson
Samantha Crawford has a storybook life: she's happily married, lives on a ranch where she keeps her beloved horse, and the stories she has written and illustrated since childhood have become popular books.
When her husband Billy is killed in a senseless act of violence, Sam loses her faith and the will to live. But a sudden death-defying encounter with two children leads to a reunion with her old friend Papa Joe Bradford.
As Sam watches Joe care for and love the kids in his struggling neighborhood, she begins to realize that no matter what life's circumstances may be, the love of God is always reaching out to us.
I found Eva Marie Everson’s novelization of the movie “Unconditional” difficult to put down. The excellent writing is amplified by a mesmerizing story of hope, transcendence, and compassion.
Although this novel contains a fair share of violence, it is neither gratuitous nor glorified. Many of the references are memories shared with regret or flashbacks of previous events. The tales of violent situations serve to enrich the story of redemption in the lives of the characters. Race relations are tense here and are not shown in a positive light; rather, racial tension highlights the division it creates. The author does a beautiful job contrasting racial tension with the unity found in a ministry to children in the “projects.”
Most striking in this heart-felt tale is the thread of hope woven throughout. One woman is able to transcend grief to find a purpose for living once again. One man changes his life and, in so doing, is able to minister to street kids. Children raised in terrible circumstances are taught community, compassion, responsibility, and love. This novel, even with its heartbreaking moments, leaves the reader with a deep sense of hope. It inspires the reader to seek change for those who live amid tragedy. We are pleased to award this wonderful novel our Dove "Family-Approved" Seal for ages 12 and over.
Content Description: Sex: Husband and wife wrestle and tickle; husband asks wife to “fool around a little;” husband and wife exchange sensuous touch and get into bed together; woman remembers her husband kissing her. Language: Several uses of “stupid,” not as name-calling; dumb; shut up; “crackers” used in derogatory manner; several uses of “cracka” in derogatory manner. Violence: Man’s murder referenced multiple times; talk of bullets and gun shots; woman loads a gun in suicidal state, puts loaded gun to her chin; young girl struck by car, her blood “seeping” through woman’s fingers; retelling of boy tripping girl, school yard fight; woman jokes about slapping a boy; story of snake bite and blood; mention of gang violence; man tells story of another man’s stabbing; man holds a “shank” against another man’s throat; man retells beating another man, with regret; man briefly tells of woman’s rape and murder, then house burned; woman carries loaded gun into a man’s home. Drugs: Crack house in the projects; numerous mentions of cigarette smoking; woman smells that someone is smoking a “joint;” woman has a bottle of liquor; man smoking a cigar; drunk men; man with chewing tobacco. Nudity: Man just out of the shower in only a towel; scantily dressed girls. Other: Retelling of bullying; multiple mentions of race relations; urban poverty; multiple mentions of gang life; woman vomits from grief; absent parents; multiple mentions of past incarceration; man tells of hacking into a computer system, with regret; multiple medical emergencies involving blood.