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The Condition

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  8,656 Ratings  ·  1,268 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, Frank McKotch, an eminent scientist; his pedigreed wife, Paulette; and their three beautiful children has embarked on its annual vacation at the Captain's House, the grand old family retreat on Cape Cod. One day on the be ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Harper
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Community Reviews

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Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
B the BookAddict
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: if you like good family drama
Recommended to B the 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 always 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 five; each struggling to understand life and the need to be loved in the aftermat ...more
Will Byrnes
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-read
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
May 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 19, 2011 rated it liked it
I've had this book forever ----(found it for a dollar)---I am finally getting around to it. I hear its good! I'll start it soon!

This was my first book I've read by Jennifer Haigh. I enjoyed it--but for some reason I thought the book was going to go more into details about Turner's syndrome. When in fact--that was just a 'part' of the story IMO --
Its really a story about an American Family --and the lives they live --the challenges they each have --and their own personal growth ---touching on per
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Shelagh Rice
Apr 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked the premise of this book after reading the blurb and the reviews. However I found it a bit misleading and the title is also misleading. Although the daughter in this book is diagnosed with "a condition" this happens at the very beginning and is glossed over very quickly. We learn very little about the condition and how she feels about it. The book does follow the family and their reactions to their daughter and sister, but I feel this has nothing to do with the condition. The family inte ...more
Bill Krieger
Jul 10, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jul 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Kristy Fox-berman
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 27, 2009 rated it it was ok

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
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jennifer (the_pumpkin_reads)

Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have heard great things about Jennifer Haigh, so maybe this was the wrong book at the wrong time for me. This is the story of another dysfunctional family. How dysfunctional, let me count the ways. A divorced couple… He can’t stop thinking about his limp dick and the pretty young women he can no longer have. She can’t stop thinking about the umbilical cord she refuses to cut despite her adult children stretching it to the breaking point. Their three adult children… The oldest son can’t come to ...more
Mary Ann
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a plot here (and it's well done), but this book is really a brilliant study of characters. Haigh's narrator has that same tone of the objective observer-analytical, somewhat distant, non-judgmental-which I so enjoyed in Mrs. Kimble and Faith. But the characters are so carefully defined and developed over a long period of time that they arouse a real empathy in the reader. I found myself caring deeply about each of them, even Paulette, the controlling repressed mother from hell. Self-rea ...more
Julie Failla Earhart
Aug 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
May 30, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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!
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Dec 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booksreadin2008
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
Kevin McAllister
May 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jennifer Arnold
May 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 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
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
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!
Mar 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Gwen McKotch's medical condition — Turner's syndrome that stalled her growth as a teen — is rare. The splintering of her New England family, the unintended cruelties of growing apart, sadly is not so unusual. But in "The Condition" Jennifer Haigh performs the difficult trick of making these often selfish people sympathetic and understandable. Haigh's writing is to-the-point elegant and in control, qualities one expects by now from graduates of the Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. ...more
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What's The Name o...: Adult book about a woman with trisomy or XXX or klinefelter syndrome [s] 7 38 Oct 03, 2014 02:14AM  
The Condition 4 96 May 16, 2012 04:44PM  
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Jennifer Haigh is an American novelist and short story writer. Her new novel, HEAT AND LIGHT (Ecco, 2016), looks at a Pennsylvania town divided by the controversy over fracking. Her last novel, FAITH, about a beloved Boston priest accused of a molesting a child in his parish, explores the consequences of this accusation for an entire community.

Haigh's critically acclaimed debut novel MRS. KIMBLE
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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.” 56 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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