The Condition is my first acquisition from the teeny tiny library in my town. I love that I can walk up to this little box and see what people have put in there. And the first time I looked in there I had just finished Jennifer Haigh’s book Faith and loved it. Imagine my surprise to see her book The Condition in a neighborhood tiny library.
I really enjoyed this book. Faith was a real break out book and The Condition didn’t quite hit that level, but it was a very good family drama.
I love the fact that there were layers of what “The Condition” could mean. Is it Gwen, whose Turner’s Syndrome seems to have visibly defined her life? Is it Billy, whose hidden sexuality has kept him from his family and from fully living his life? Is it Scott, whose discovery of ADHD (wait, is that a shiny object) seems to explain so much of his life and his family? Or it the parents Frank and Paulette who have plenty of their own hangups?
The book starts in a weird place – 1976 and the crumbling final days of Frank and Paulette’s marriage during a weekend on Cape Cod. Then it jumps ahead to 1997 and the children are grown, each dealing with their own baggage from the end of their parents’ marriage. Each of the characters has their own journey from there to the end of the book and each of them changes, all in a positive way.
For a lesser writer, jumping between five characters (plus their family, partners and friends) could have mean a choppy narrative or even confusion. Haigh manages it well. I was never confused or even disoriented.
I wouldn’t say this is the best book I’ve read this year, but it was a highly readable book. The characters were all sympathetic, even those you felt you shouldn’t like.
I would recommend this book to those who like family dramas.