Unconditionally Conditional

How They Love Me. How They Love Each Other. How They Love Others. (What I Tell Myself)

Children - Non-Fiction
20 Pages
Reviewed on 02/21/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Kathy Golden for Readers' Favorite

Unconditionally Conditional: How They Love Me. How They Love Each Other. How They Love Others by Michael Brown is a book that presents a great deal of important and serious questions about love that children might be asking, even if only within themselves. The book has the kind of large print and bold images that are engaging to children. Even though some of the questions are emotionally difficult, the illustrations help the overall atmosphere of the book to still feel like one that children can connect with.

One important asset of the book is the fact the questions cover a broad spectrum of love relationships. This includes everything from the idea of parents who met while walking on the beach as well as those who met through a one-night stand. Such examples make it clear that children do know about the variety of ways their parents might have met and that parents needn’t bother to hide the truth, no matter how they met. The book addresses sensitive and painful topics for children such as separation, divorce, and a new man or woman who seemingly takes the place of the missing parent. Hence, such topics open the line of communication for children to speak freely about how they feel when these events happen.

The greatest strength of Michael Brown’s Unconditionally Conditional is the way the questions are presented. Each question has its own page. This set-up easily allows parents or a parent and the child to focus on the one question that is of uppermost concern to the child. In addition, this is the kind of book that children need to be introduced to, just so they can share their thoughts about love in general and so that parents can be aware of and alerted to any concerns children might have about being loved and knowing that they are loved. This colorful book with its animated characters and situations is a great tool to open up free discussion between parents and children and to tackle any insecurities long before they become too deeply rooted for children to share them. In addition, there are enough positive questions about love to help children see early in life what a beautiful experience love can be and that it’s worth having in their own lives when they grow up.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

What is love? What does it mean for a parent to love a child? Or, for that matter, a child to love a parent? Is it conditional? Or unconditional? And what does that mean? “I am yours. You are mine./ You gave me life. Now it’s time./ The lines are blurred. I need to know/ how do love relationships go?” Life can be complicated. So many things for a young mind to sort out. And, when parents who say they love their child, suddenly go separate ways, it adds more confusion to the equation. What is a child supposed to believe? That he/she caused this rift?

Michael A. Brown’s children’s book, Unconditionally Conditional: How They Love Me. How They Love Each Other. How They Love Others”, is an assessment of a complicated sentiment. With so many families becoming multiple families (parents and step-parents and step-siblings), it’s a growing issue amongst young people trying to come to terms with what it all means and how the child fits into this complex mix. This book takes a serious look at some of the questions children must face when the parents who claim they conceived the child through their love for each other suddenly find love elsewhere. Love is difficult enough to understand without the multiple variables added in.

Michael A. Brown speaks like a child, challenging the parents on their view of the love that created the child they claim to love unconditionally (or was it conditionally?). “What is unconditional love?/ Just what is conditional love?” With expressive illustrations that clearly depict the child’s confusion and frustration, the issues are compounded into a real and vibrant reality. The multiple variables in the family network leave behind invisible scars, some of which may never heal. By addressing these challenging questions, young people will slowly come to a place where healing may potentially take place. Unconditionally Conditional is a clever, thought-provoking way to address these complex abstract issues.