Cover image for Conditions of love
Conditions of love
Pennebaker, Ruth.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Holt, [1999]

Physical Description:
261 pages ; 22 cm
During her freshman year at an elite high school in Dallas, Sarah tries to come to terms with her own volatile emotions, her changing relationship with her best friend, feelings about her mother, and new insights into her dead father whom she idolized.
Reading Level:
800 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.9 9.0 35285.

Reading Counts RC High School 7.2 12 Quiz: 17269 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Ruth Pennebaker's first novel for teenagers was Don't Think Twice , an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, which Kirkus Reviews labeled a "masterpiece." Praise for Pennebaker's biting wit, sharp insight, and appealing characters was unanimous.Now the author turns to a Dallas high school full of rich blondes, and to one thoughtful, hilarious, brunette with a deeply broken heart. Through fourteen-year-old Sarah Morgan, the author explores dating, friendship, and family - all the Conditions of Love .

Author Notes

Ruth Pennebaker is a regular contributor to the Dallas Morning News . She, her husband, and their two children live in Austin, Texas.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 8^-10. Fourteen-year-old Sarah is having a hard time adjusting after her father's death. Although her parents were divorced, Sarah's dad was the glue holding them all together. But now, it seems, everything is falling apart. In her elite high school, she's a social outsider. At home, she's estranged from her mother. Her best friend, Ellie, is absorbed with her own problems. And learning painful truths about her father's alcoholism and behavior causes Sarah to reevaluate the whole notion of love, friends, family, and even oneself. But she comes to realize that despite the pain that people may cause one another, the important thing is to keep reaching out. The often humorous train-of-thought style is appealing and realistic, and readers--who become Sarah's confidantes through direct address--will relate to her issues of heart and mind. An insightful exploration of teenage neuroses, and the importance of reconciling truth with myth and appearances, as well as the varying degrees and types of love, most important, self-love. --Shelle Rosenfeld

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7-9-A freshman at elite Hillside Park High in Dallas, Sarah feels invisible at school and at home with her cold, television-star mother. In a first-person narrative, the aspiring journalist reveals her day-to-day fears and insecurities through imagined "headlines and subheads." The teen also flashes back to the love, warmth, and sense of adventure she associated with her father before his death the previous year. She feels herself growing away from her friend Ellie and her controlling, emotionally unstable family. When Ellie confronts Sarah about her father's alcoholism and financial misdealings, Sarah must reconcile truth and memory. Then Ellie's sister commits suicide, and Sarah feels the painful consequences of her actions as a friend. She spends a lot of time trying to get her emotions under control. She also spends a lot of time thinking about sex. Reflections on kissing techniques, parents in bed, and male masturbation are topics for her fertile imagination. Stereotypical situations-Ellie's divorced mom's obsession with age and self-discovery; her ex-Cowboys' cheerleader stepmom; football coach as history teacher; and a Texas landscape of superficial blonds, money, and mansions-could make a humorous soap opera. Too many issues and fairly predictable teen characters weaken what is otherwise a tender and sensitive exploration of one girl's search for love, friendship, and acceptance in a less-than-perfect world.-Gail Richmond, San Diego Unified Schools, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.