Read The Condition by Jennifer Haigh Online


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 beThe 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 beach, Frank is struck by an image he cannot forget: his thirteen-year-old daughter, Gwen, strangely infantile in her child-sized bikini, standing a full head shorter than her younger cousin Charlotte. At that moment he knows a truth that he can never again unknown something is terribly wrong with his only daughter. The McKotch family will never be the same.Twenty years after Gwen's diagnosis with Turner's syndrome, a genetic condition that has prevented her from maturing, trapping her forever in the body of a child, all five family members are still dealing with the fallout. Each believes himself crippled by some secret pathology; each feels responsible for the family's demise. Frank and Paulette are acrimoniously divorced. Billy, the eldest son, is dutiful but distant, a handsome Manhattan cardiologist with a life built on compromise. His brother, Scott, awakens from a pot-addled adolescence to a soul-killing job, a regrettable marriage, and a vinyl-sided tract house in the suburbs. And Gwen is silent and emotionally aloof, a bright, accomplished woman who spurns any interaction with those around her. She makes peace with the hermetic life she's constructed until, well into her thirties, she falls in love for the first time. And suddenly, once again, the family's world is tilted on its axis.Compassionate yet unflinchingly honest, witty and almost painfully astute, The Condition explores the power of family mythologies, the self-delusions, denials, and inescapable truths that forever bind fathers and mothers and siblings....

Title : The Condition
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780739496497
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 740 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Condition Reviews

  • Bess
    2019-04-09 09:36

    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 it, but if you aren't prepared, parts of this beautifully written story may hit dangerously, abyss-suckingly close to home. I'd recommend reading it during the best possible stretch of one's menstrual cycle... preferably on a sunny day.

  • B the BookAddict
    2019-04-19 12:41

    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 aftermath of divorce and about children struggling to cement their own lives in adulthood. The McKotch's are Frank - workaholic scientist who likes the ladies and sex, Paulette - the very cloying New England wife, the son Billy is gay but hasn't come out to the family, Scott is a pothead teacher who fails at most things he bothers to try and Gwen is an anthropologist and suffers from Turner's syndrome. Frank and Paulette divorce, for a multitude of reasons, twelve months after they discover fourteen year old Gwen has Turner's and the family is pulled apart by both instances. Post-divorce, Frank absents himself and Paulette turns her focus rather too heavily onto the children. The story moves in a circuitous fashion 1976 to 1997, back and forwards through the family's lives and their reactions to Gwen's diagnosis. Not surprisingly, all three children hide their adult lives from both parents. “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.” Each character is given depth with Haigh's frank and articulate manner; you understand each of the McKotch family. With wonderful perception and style, Haigh tells a believable, beautifully honest and intelligent story. University of Iowa's Writers Workshop authors rarely fail to please and Jennifer Haigh does the university proud. A good solid 4★ from me.

  • Will Byrnes
    2019-04-20 13:30

    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 fruition. Time before and after is indeed noted, but not at length. The core family is biologist Frank McKotch, his pretty, moneyed, uptight wife Paulette and their three children, Billy, the oldest and favorite, Gwen, who Frank realizes is suffering from a condition that will stunt her growth, and Scotty, the ADHD youngest, bouncing off the walls, getting into trouble for biting and challenging everyone’s ability to cope. Other family members are portrayed, but play subsidiary roles.The issues raised here are common enough, how we are affected by our upbringing, how we communicate with each other (or don’t), the value, both up and down of family, finding out who we are, and in that learning coming to see more clearly those around us. Haigh writes with great sensitivity and insight into human relations. I found plenty here that rang the bell of reality. There are many structural elements that support the commonality of the family members’ experiences, particularly in their romantic attractions and relationships, and in their difficulty with communicating their inner selves to others, with allowing others to get emotionally close. There is a high level of craft and talent at work here. The promise evidenced in Haigh’s earlier work has been fully realized here, and we can look forward to more great work from her in future. =============================EXTRA STUFFSince this review was originally posted, I have had a chance to read more of Haigh's work. Here are three excellent books by this outstanding author:FaithBaker TowersNews from Heaven: The Bakerton Stories

  • Laura
    2019-04-20 09:49

    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 raise 3 self-loathing children- the book covers their childhoods and adulthoods. Austensibly, the diagnosis of Turner's syndrome in the middle child, Gwen, is the basis for everyone's misery, but it is obvious that each person has his/her own inadequacies that have been fostered for a long time. Each person's foibles made it hard to love them, and I kept thinking, "these people need help!" while feeling as though the dyscommunication can't be far from anyone's real life, including my own. For a while I wondered if there would be any joy in the characters' lives, but there was, and it was a compelling read.

  • Jeff
    2019-04-03 13:29

    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.

  • Lindsey
    2019-03-29 15:41

    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 this hurdle. In all actuality for the next hundred or so pages that I read it follows each family member and how this event shaped their lives. The parents eventually divorce, the brother is confused with his sexuality and the daughter is hardly mentioned at all. I felt that the years between the diagnosis and her adolescent years would have been the most important and most interesting to read about and because they were never discussed I was disappointed and felt no need to finish it. Also, how did she handle this? How was it in school when she continued to be small and all her friends grew? What were her feelings on how her family members dealt with this?Maybe the book gets better and I am missing out in some way. If someone else has read this and loved it please let me know. I will pick it back up if needs be.

  • Elyse
    2019-03-27 15:24

    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 personal transformation (at different times for each character)....dealing with morals, emotions, family troubles, compassion, and love. I think the title of this book is 'weak'. (doesn't give enough of the full flavor of the entire story, IMO). the moment --I can't come up with another title for the book either.I enjoy a well-written-insightful 'relationship/family' type books such as "The Corrections", "The Privileges", and "Little Children". I can't say I like this book 'AS MUCH' as the other 3 I just mentioned ---but I 'did' like it. (once I got on board and realized it was a book about "Turner's Syndrome").I think the ending was a little rushed --but I admit--I sure didn't see what was coming down the pipes in the 'prognosis' at the end of the book. I'm a little left with 'why'? Why did Haigh put that into the book? (very little said...yet a powerful punch). Its not the first time I've seen this down--in both books and movies. more thing: I 'do' have a favorite character: (for a specific reason). Its *Scott* --(the son nobody had any expectations of). It seem to me--he had the most 'pure' transformation in the book when he took a drug test. (he could have fudged it to make the test come out clean). His reason for not cheating he said was because he didn't want his job (teaching) anymore anyway. I don't think that was his real reason. I think he was 'ready' to face the truth in his life (all of his life). Face the troubles in his marriage ---(which manifested 'FOR' him anyway). NOBODY pushed him into that choice. I liked watching the way Scott challenged his own 'thinking'..."growing himself up".

  • Laura
    2019-04-19 13:36

    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.

  • malic
    2019-04-13 14:46

    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 beautiful women. The book is full of cliched lines but the characters get deeper. Each of the characters had a distinct (but not devicive) personality and I enjoyed their lives tangling and untangling and the details of the complicated impact their family had on them. Plus, the author had a feminist/liberal approach that I appreciate.Still something fell flat, maybe because it lacked the fantastical nature that bothThe Correctionsand "Six Feet Under" have.

  • Shelagh Rice
    2019-04-21 17:36

    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 interactions are interesting but not fascinating. Just a 3 star for me.

  • Bill Krieger
    2019-04-03 10:24

    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, and2. The mother wistfully daydreams of not having ever had a family so that she could be more like Madeleine Albright. (snort!)One of the sons is gay. His "condition" is accompanied by a cascading complaint waterfall. The son complains that he has to hide his sexual orientation from his family. The family complains that the son is distant. Once the son comes out of the closet, and his family doesn't mind at all, he complains that they aren't more interested in the whole affair. And then he whines about all the unnecessary whining he's done over the many years.Of course, the cherry on top of the whining whirlwind is that the family has pretty much everything... money, success, their health (mostly), each other.But I still liked the book. I give major kudos to the author, Jennifer Haigh. She has a wonderful writing style that made the unlikeable characters realistic and believable. The Condition is very much a character study, which gets a little plot-heavy at the end, but it was fun reading. She did a wonderful job letting the characters whine away and then see themselves reflected in the reactions of those around them. One son smokes pot nonstop and (of course) bitches about it and how it has impacted his life. It's frustrating to read this self-pity, but then, later, other characters give you a truer reading: this guys is a moronic pothead.Finally, I'll give myself a pat on the butt. I hesitated early on in this book, when the grousing commenced. But I fought through it and was rewarded. Good book! And now, I'm back to the future... I just added Ms. Haigh's first book, Mrs. Kimble, to my Amazon queue.

  • Tara
    2019-04-07 11:31

    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. Mrs. Kimble was better written as a whole, I think. This leans towards a Jodi Picoult-ish women's literature.

  • Kristy Fox-berman
    2019-03-25 17:33

    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 and found it difficult to put down!

  • Melissa
    2019-03-23 15:22

    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 interesting.Page 169. Chapter 4 starts here. I hadn’t realized it until then, but each chapter has about 4 sub-chapters. They are laid out like a normal chapter, but without a number. This turned me off (even more than I already was).Ooh here we go. We are finally talking about Gwen and how her condition affects her and her family. Four (4) pages later, we are done with the explanation. Nice.I finished this book, because by then I was invested in it. Sadly.This is a story about a family. A family like yours and mine. With our quirky relatives and secrets we all keep in death. It was an easy read, but really, who cares? I feel I could have gone to my neighbors and gotten a good story just as easily.There is NOTHING in this book that makes it different from anyone else’s life. The Turner Syndrome isn’t discussed with any detail. We aren’t even told how Gwen dealt with it during her school years. It’s just brushed over. We are told about her running away to a man on an island that she barely knows. Show me a woman that hasn’t done that at least once in her life. We all fall for the mysterious man at some point. Nothing special there. The brothers each have their secrets, (Show me a family that doesn’t) and the parents are divorced, but still speak to each other at time. Just your regular American family.Woop-de-dooSorely disappointed.

  • Lara
    2019-04-13 14:47

    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 Syndrome so much as it is about a condition that afflicts us all: the human condition. Some of the characters’ flaws and/or mistaken actions made me wince with discomfort, and their sense of regret went against my basic philosophy of life (which is pretty similar to Mike Damone’s advice in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, if you take out the “act like” part: “..Wherever you are, that’s the place to be. Isn’t this great?”). At the same time, though, these same flaws/mistaken actions/regrets were almost comforting in a weird way.Haigh gives each character such depth that I truly felt like I knew them all by the time I finished reading, and although the book was laced with melancholy, it left me feeling warm and wishing there was more of it to read. I suppose I’ll have to settle for reading her previous books instead.

  • Jennifer (the_pumpkin_reads)
    2019-03-29 15:23


  • Irene
    2019-04-22 14:29

    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 terms with his homosexuality. The daughter can’t come to terms with her Turner’s Syndrome. The younger son can’t come to terms with being an unambitious pot head. The ending did not feel true to the characters but to the expectations of the Life Time Channel.

  • Mary Ann
    2019-03-29 14:32

    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-realization comes to all of them. The style of this work is also more expansive and descriptive than the other two I've read; the different environments metaphorically mirror the "condition" of each character as well as the complex dynamic of their relationships-Paulette's Cape Cod house, Frank's laboratory, Billy's pristine Manhattan apartment, Gwen's pokey Pittsburgh flat, Scott's drab and chaotic tract house. I wouldn't trivialize it by calling the book a "happy ending" story, but the resolution is deeply satisfying. This book is a gem.

  • Julie Failla Earhart
    2019-04-15 16:25

    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 joined by Paulette’s brother, Roy and his family, and her sister, Martine. It is there that Frank notices that his thirteen-year-old daughter, Gwen, has developed at the same rate as her cousin. Frank, an MIT scientist who would rather be in his lab than at the beach, is positive that something dire is wrong with Gwen. Frank’s suspicions are indeed correct. Gwen is diagnosed with Turner’s Syndrome, a genetic condition that will not allow her body to mature. Gwen will forever be short. She will never have periods, breasts, or babies.I had thought that The Condition would be more about Gwen and her condition and how this syndrome affected her life. Instead, Haigh takes the readers on an unexpected, and remarkable, journey. Gwen’s diagnosis is merely the catalyst for the rest of the family drama. In fact, Gwen shares the role of protagonist with each member of her immediate family. The story skips ahead to 1997. Frank and Paulette have divorced, Billy is living in the closet in New York, Gwen works in a museum in Pittsburgh, and Scott has recently returned from a failed life in California with a wife and two kids. Haigh’s novel looks deeply into the lives of each family member. Readers get a chance to know each family member intimately. It is a satisfying read, with each family member having a chance to have his/her story told. As wonderful as the story was, the writing didn’t sparkle. Some chapters droned on and on and were over-written; the information more back story than plot point. And at The Condition’s near end, Haigh moves the timeframe into 2001 by using a cheap shot of 9/11.

  • Laura
    2019-03-31 16:28

    My reflections after reading “the condition” by Jennifer HaighMany 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 albeit unconsciously with demons of their own.Reaching out unsuccessfully, turning in repeatedly. Together, yet apart, the incongruous contrasts life offers. Black and white nonexistentTorrents of color swirling unacknowledgedColors often muted as they come together in no particular orderwithout attending to the results, only the process.Much later, an awareness of our own participationMe, trying to be who others think I am. Me, trying to be what is good and right. Me, rearranging life to reflect my vision, rather than being open to what life offers. Judging? Resisting? Hoping? Regretting? Wishing for? Forgetting to be grateful and to notice what is. In this manner letting life pass by.Never experiencing my youth.Ever feeling feelings and never feeling feelings.Stuffing them like an old trunk with no forgiveness in the sides.Stuck, moldy, fearful, rotting releasing destructive chemicals in their wake.Unpack the trunk and be aware and grateful for today.This is a beginning.Each day I begin anew….

  • Anita
    2019-04-12 12:35

    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 understand if she just got out of her own way there was a world of love surrounding her.

  • Ellen
    2019-04-21 12:31

    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 to discuss.

  • Melissa
    2019-03-24 14:26

    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)
    2019-04-09 16:24

    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 book. And she writes in long hand, because that takes more thought than tapping it out on the computer. After that there are two or three revisions so that the sentences are well constructed and interesting. She is a treat to read.With the foregoing, I'm wondering why this wasn't a five star read for me. In the end, the story just didn't quite make it. The Condition tells the story of a family torn apart not just by a daughter's medical condition, but by the decades' worth of mistakes and disappointments and regrets that followed. It's a story about five adults trying to function as a family - five people who didn't choose each other and probably wouldn't have, but are tied to each other in ways they don't welcome and don't completely understand.I don't know that I'd agree with the "not choosing" part of that - the parents were married and chose to have children. It is an ambitious premise for a story. Perhaps it was too ambitious, or perhaps it should have been developed further.

  • Kelly
    2019-04-11 16:22

    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 member and how their lives unfold over 18 years: the turbulence, confrontations, failures, successes and ultimate forgiveness. Her characters are flawed people, which makes them that much more believable and the story that much more compelling.

  • Kevin McAllister
    2019-04-01 17:37

    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 between. And so she has."

  • Jennifer Arnold
    2019-04-13 09:22

    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. Overall, a well-written, character-driven novel.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-11 14:29

    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
    2019-04-11 16:45

    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!

  • Tim
    2019-03-28 17:35

    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. [We interrupt this review to go on a tangent, a small sampling of authors (28 Pulitzer Prizes!) associated with the Iowa Writers Workshop as alums or faculty: John Irving, Wallace Stegner, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Penn Warren, Philip Roth, Ann Patchett, Michael Cunningham, Richard Yates, T.C. Boyle, Andre Dubus, Denis Johnson, Flannery O'Connor, Marilynne Robinson, John Cheever, Frank Conroy, Chris Adrian, Ethan Canin, Elizabeth McCracken, Kent Haruf, W.P. Kinsella, Joe Haldeman, Abraham Verghese, etc. Sorry, couldn't help myself. Tangent over.]Gwen's mother and scientist father clash in their approach to this daughter trapped in the body of a child. Her older brother strives to be the perfect son, to the point of hiding from his family his homosexuality, while her younger brother is an unfocused screw-up. As adults Gwen, Billy and Scott live lives of varying success, but in similar unthinking detachment from the family unit, while mom and dad have long since divorced. Haigh is astute at detailing the things family members won't say to each other, the blind eyes that they turn, out of habit or stubbornness."The Condition" is good but not great (high side of three stars); it is a small story, but one told by an insightful, wise writer. Haigh's novel is not really about Gwen's condition, not directly; the five McKotches are presented as flawed but real people, family members who react to Gwen's reality in their own ways and live their own lives but sometimes can't resist the gravitational pull of their blood.