The Condition
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The Condition

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3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  6,466 ratings  ·  1,087 reviews
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...more
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Published July 1st 2008 by HarperAudio (first published January 1st 2008)
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Bess
This novel is really wonderful in the same way that Pink Floyd is really wonderful... but you know how if you listen to Pink Floyd alone on a cloudy day, you'll spiral into a bone-chillingly real, suicidal depression? All the while consciously maintaining that it's fantastically beautiful music, and knowing somewhere deep down inside from the blackest of your darkness that you'd be completely fine if you'd just listened to Supertramp instead?

That's a powerful phenomenon, and you should respect i...more
Will Byrnes
The flap copy states that the core event in the book is Gwen’s “condition,” but I did not really get that from reading the book. Her medical condition is one of several conditions addressed in the book, emotional conditions, maybe the “human condition.” This is a domestic novel, a multi-generational portrait of a family, focusing on the period between 1976 when we first meet them, summering in The Captain’s House in Cape Cod, and concluding in 1998, by which time the issues raised have come to f...more
Laura
What a great read! This novel was a perfect family drama to get absorbed in. It's the story of the McKotch family, who tend to keep everything bottled up and simultaneously get upset when the others don't understand them. It is written in 3rd person, and each chapter covers the events/thoughts of a different character. The writing was perfect- not too wordy while beautifully conveying exactly how each person felt. Prudish, smothering mother, Paulette and the scientist/workaholic father, Frank ra...more
Jeff
Jennifer Haigh is a wonderful, intelligent storyteller. I really enjoyed "Mrs. Kimble" and "Baker Towers," and was no less enthralled with "The Condition." Her characters are beautifully drawn and incredibly human.

The title suggests that the book is about a single "condition," but there are as many "conditions" in the novel as there are characters. Ultimately, I feel the title refers to the "human condition," the need to be needed and the need to understand the world in which we live.
Laura
Aug 11, 2008 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: NY Times book review
What a beautiful book. I can't say enough good things about it and when I say "I can't," I mean " I don't have time." But I'm thinking lots of really good things about it and words like "moving," "intelligent," "honest to the bone," "brilliantly constructed," "characters you can believe in (with apologies to Barack,) and "I didn't want it to end," all figure in my thoughts.
Read this book.
Lindsey
I was disappointed in this book. In fact, I never finished it. This book is about a young girl that discovers while on a family vacation that she is smaller than her cousin who is the same age. The family is perplexed as they realize that she actually looks the same as she did a couple of years ago. After a trip to the doctors office it is confirmed that she does in fact have a form of dwarfism.

I was under the impression that the book would follow her life and how she was able to get through thi...more
Bette BookAddict
Dec 04, 2013 Bette BookAddict rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: if you like good family drama
Recommended to Bette BookAddict by: GR
The Condition which the title alludes to is Turner's syndrome; a genetic malformation where half of the second X chromosome is not formed thus preventing puberty and certain psychosocial changes to take place, rendering a sufferer to present as a prepubescent teenager. But the novel The Condition is less about the syndrome and more about that very basic condition; the human condition. It's about a family of 5; each struggling to understand life and the need to be loved in the aftermath of divorc...more
Lara
This book involves a young girl (and her family) who is diagnosed with a condition called Turner’s Syndrome, which prevents her body from ever maturing into or beyond puberty. When I started reading this, I did so with the notion that girl with Turner’s was the center of the book, and that the rest of the story focused on how her family dealt with (or failed to deal with) her condition.

In some ways, I was right. In actuality, though, the book is not really about the condition of Turner’s Syndrom...more
malic
This book is a good second best to The Corrections or "Six Feet Under"- a family drama, told in turn from each of the five member's perspective, complete with a gay son, a daughter with Turner's syndrome, a son with ADHD, an overbearing mom, and absent scientific father.

At first I thought it was going to be a cliche of heterosexuality - the book starts from the mom's perspective obsessing about whether or not her husband loves her, finds her attractive, is having affairs with younger and more b...more
Kristy Fox-berman
Finally-- a new author to add to my list of favorites after a long winter full of mediocre books. This book grabbed me on the first page. Every character in the featured family was likeable despite their flaws. This is how I view families in my work as a psychotherapist. The book illustrates how we can all be misunderstood despite our good intentions. It looks at the ache within all of us to be loved and approved of and the actions (good and bad) that we take to achieve this. I LOVED this book a...more
Julie Failla Earhart
From the author of Baker Towers and Mrs. Kimble, Jennifer Haigh, comes her long-awaited new novel, The Condition. Set in and around Massachusetts, The Condition tells the story of a family that is torn apart by a daughter’s medical condition. Or rather that is merely the crutch everyone uses to blame their dysfunctional situation.

The story opens in 1976 when the McKotch family makes heads to Cape Cod and the familial retreat. Paulette, Frank, and their three children—Billy, Gwen, and Scott—are j...more
Tara
I wanted to love this book because I love Jennifer Haigh. What an amazingly talented author! I watch for her new books and got The Condition right away. I think that, as a whole, the story is very satisfying and I enjoyed the ending. I almost gave up on it, though. There's about 100 pages of backstory, which I suppose is important to getting the end, but I got tired of reading all this authorial explanation. I liked the scenes, which were prominent in the very beginning and at the end, much more...more
Ellen
I've come to count Jennifer Haigh as an author whose next work I look forward to reading. I enjoyed both MRS. KIMBLE and BAKER TOWERS for the same reason: They both feature a compelling ensemble of characters. Here too, with THE CONDITION, Haigh has shown her strength. However, the book is less about the condition to which the title refers--Turner's Syndrome, afflicting one of the main characters--and more about some really fascinating family dynamics. A good book group choice, for sure. Plenty...more
Melissa
I really loved this book! The story is told from the perspective of many characters in the McKotch Family, which reminded me of another book I enjoyed Three Junes....their flaws and shortcomings come out and yet you still enjoy them and root for them. The ending was very satisfying. I'd like to read her other books. Thanks to Eliza for recommending this book!
Bill Krieger
I don't want to piss off a whole region of the country, but The Condition is a book of east coast sensibilities. It's about a New England family and their constant complaining about nearly every aspect of life. The book is pretty much bereft of likeable characters.

The whining and complaining of the characters in this book is nonstop from start to finish. Just off the top of my head, two random, silly examples for you:

1. The father complains that boy's bikes have that bar in the middle, and

2. The...more
Melissa


I’m just going to rip into this book…

I got this book, because it looked interesting. Reading about Turner Syndrome (something I knew nothing about) and how it affects a family appealed to me.

I was up to page 100 before anything was mentioned about the disease. It’s been a quick read, but it just talks about a family and what they are all about. So far nothing is jumping out at me.

Page 123. Still nothing. Scott seems to be getting the most attention in this book and it’s not really all that inter...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
To quote Tolstoy, Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This family wasn't as abject as all that, and I didn't feel the story depressing. Still, the family dynamics was at the center of it all.

I keep coming back to authors who excel at characterization. Jennifer Haigh (I learned she pronounces her name like the city in The Netherlands) spends several months writing about her characters, learning about them thoroughly, before she actually begins writing the...more
Kelly
Since her first novel Mrs. Kimble, I’ve enjoyed Jennifer Haigh’s work. Her third novel, The Condition, is another very fast, interesting and thought provoking read. Told from the perspective of all five members of the McKotch family, it centers around the family relationships once the middle child, Gwen, is diagnosed with Turner’s Syndrome (a condition in which a girl does not go through puberty, her physical body staying trapped in a 13 year old body). Haigh captures the plight of each family m...more
Anita
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a fascinating look at a family of flawed, but good people and the effect they have on each other's lives. Particularly powerful is the Mother who is perhaps the most flawed of all. Though well-meaning her issues are so great that the impact on the family is near-devastating. Yet you find yourself not hating her or angry at her, (unlike the mother in August:Osage County) but rather wishing you could sit her down and give her a good talking to and make her unde...more
Jennifer Arnold
The "condition" in the title is daughter Gwen's Turner's Syndrome, but the whole novel is really about the condition, individually and collectively, of the entire McKotch family, Paulette (mom), Frank (dad), Billy (the oldest), Scott (the youngest), and, of course, Gwen. I really liked how Haigh lets you see the characters from both their own and other's perspectives...you think you know them, but you don't get the full picture until they begin to tell their stories from their own perpectives. O...more
Kevin
The Condition the title refers to is Turner's syndrome. A condition in which young girls never go through puberty,leaving them women, locked in girls bodies. The story can be summed up by one wonderful paragraph very late in the novel:

"She no longer wonders what is normal,whether she feels correctly. It is impossible to say.Her whole life she's known that her condition is untreatable. Now she understands that it requires no treatment. The difference is vast;you could fit a whole life in the gulf...more
Sarah
A very touching novel, written with graceful and articulate prose. 'The Condition' is not so much about the literal condition (Turners Syndrome), but about a Family and about change and growth; the passing of time and the effects it has on an individual and on a family. Haigh successfully interweaves the characters, all of whom are dynamic and believable. I read this novel in two days -- it was almost impossible to put down. My only criticism is how Haigh neatly wraps up the ending.
Lisa
If I could, I'd give this book 4.5 stars. Because the author alternates telling the story from the different characters' points of view, this not only made the story more interesting, but the character development more fleshed out. I didn't want to put this book down!
Jeanne
Read this for library book club and enjoyed it to a degree but thought it could have done a lot more. Story of Gwen and the condition she has,Turner’s Syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality which causes her to remain as a child (physically and emotionally) for the rest of her life. Basically, the story is about how her condition affects the family and also, how each member of the family has some sort of condition as well.

The story starts with a summer at the cottage when the family, and especially...more
Christina
The basis of The Condition is Gwen’s actual condition — a chromosomal abnormality called Tuner Syndrome, which means she will never go through puberty and will forever be stuck in the body of an eleven-year-old child — but the real story is that the condition of her family post-diagnosis. The marriage of her parents, Frank and Paulette, disintegrates following her father’s observation, but their marriage was long on the rocks before that fateful day on Cape Cod. Her younger brother, Scott, runs...more
Shari Larsen
This is the story of about 20 years in the life of a dysfunctional l New England family. Resentful, controlling Paullette and distracted, needy Frank have 3 children. Billy is the most successful, living a sophisticated life in New York but keeping a secret from the family. Scott, the formerly uncontrollable "brat" of the family, sees himself in his own son, and is fighting to keep his own marriage together. The middle child, Gwen, suffers from Turners Syndrome, a genetic condition which prevent...more
Laura
My reflections after reading “the condition” by Jennifer Haigh

Many reminders of Connecticut and the Sheridan Farm.
Gatherings rife with alcohol, laughter and many people.
The author reflects “how else are people related supposed to manage being together all summer?”

Feeling I should feel connected.
Watching, always watching, but never feeling a part of the gatherings. Thinking that others were connected.
Never looking beneath the illusion to touch the reality underneath.
People merely wrestling...more
Nancy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenn
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this novel. I believed there would have been discussion on Turner's disease and how it affected Gwen's growing up. Instead, it turned into a delectable tale of a highly dysfunctional family. Which, when you really analyze it, is partially due to Gwen's condition. It was always the elephant in the room. Paulette didn't want to talk about it, while Frank needed answers and researched it to death often asking the uncomfortable questions that no one else wa...more
Katie O'Rourke
I took this book with me to Hawaii even though the hard cover version took up most of my carry-on space. Luckily, I was not disappointed. This is the best book I've read all year.

Jennifer Haigh's novel is a family saga that reads like a post-mortem. With alternating narration, each of the five family members give their perspective on what led to the family's demise and current state. The novel's title, The Condition, seems to refer specifically to one child in the family who has been diagnosed w...more
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The Condition 5 91 May 16, 2012 04:44PM  
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Jennifer Haigh is an American novelist and short story writer. Her most recent novel, FAITH (HarperCollins, 2011), tells the story of a beloved Boston priest accused of a molesting a child. Her previous novels include the New York Times bestsellers THE CONDITION and BAKER TOWERS, winner of the 2006 PEN/L. L. Winship Award for outstanding book by a New England author. Her critically acclaimed debut...more
More about Jennifer Haigh...
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“It was a lesson most people learned much earlier; that even friendship could have an undisclosed shelf life. That loyalty and affection, so consuming and powerful, could dissipate like fog.” 44 likes
“It was the oldest friends who mattered most. With each passing year, Paulette realized this more deeply. She thought of her borther Roy, retired to Arizona, to golf with other men who were also - she loathed the expression - senior citizens. Roy had arrived in Phoenix with an entire life behind him, a career, a marriage; to his new friends he'd always be old.” 1 likes
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