The Condition

Jennifer Haigh is the author of the three novels, ‘The Condition’ was released last summer and everyone is talking about this book. Book clubs are reading it across the country.

‘The Condition’ is the story of a New England family with three children. Their only daughter, Gwen, has Turner's Syndrome. Told in three parts, this story is told from each family member’s perspective.

The story starts in when the children are young, spending a summer at the beach. Everyone seems happy yet you sense there is a struggle between the parents. The second section takes place twenty years later, the children are grown and the parents have divorced. Each member of the family tells their story filling in the missing pieces that have happened over the years, answering the reader’s question – how did this family become so distant, angry and unhappy.

The third part of the book brings closure and acceptance to all members of the family but in a way that keeps you engaged and wondering how the author will bring closure to the family.

One of the best books I have read this year.

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Type: Fiction, 400 pages, Hardcover
Reading Guide: Yes
Recommend for book club: Yes

The Condition tells the story of the McKotches, a proper New England family that comes apart during one fateful summer. The year is 1976, and the family has embarked on their annual vacation to Cape Cod. One day, Frank is struck by his thirteen-year-old daughter, Gwen, standing a full head shorter than her younger cousin. At that moment he knows something is terribly wrong with his only daughter.

Twenty years after Gwen's diagnosis with Turner's Syndrome—a genetic condition that traps her forever in the body of a child—all five family members are still dealing with the fallout. Frank and Paulette are acrimoniously divorced. Billy is dutiful but distant. His brother, Scott, awakens from a pot-addled adolescence to a soul-killing job and a regrettable marriage. And Gwen is silent and emotionally aloof, until she falls in love for the first time. And suddenly, once again, the family's world is tilted on its axis.

The Washington Post, Chris Bohjalian… Haigh has demonstrated in her previous two novels, Mrs. Kimbel and Baker Towers, an unerring ability to chronicle the ways people delude themselves – those lies we tell ourselves daily to survive. And in The Condition her touch with characterization is usually sure. Occasionally, Paulette’s monumental repression and Billy’s gay domesticity feel a tad clich├ęd, but generally Haigh's characters are layered and authentic. Moreover, one would have to have a heart of stone not to care for them and follow their small sagas…I cared so much for each member of the McKotch clan that I was … happy to have spent time with them, and to have witnessed them growing up and old and, finally, learning to accept who they are.