Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Condition

The Condition by Jennifer Haigh

What was this book about?

The family consists of a mother who really doesn’t know if she loves her husband any more – she seems to like to be without him more then with him, a husband who is consumed with his work at the university and his research – his family is an afterthought to some extent, a son who wants to make his family happy – but can’t deny who he really is, a daughter who thought she was normal until one day she found out that she will never be like regular women, the youngest son – who wants to prove to his family that he can be as good as the rest of them but is unwilling to put for the effort.

It starts when the children are young and Gwen is in her teens. When her family compares her to her younger cousin they realize that she has a disorder that has trapped her in the body of a child.

Flash forward to the children being older. Each one of them must deal with their now divorced parents in a way that doesn’t threaten who they are. They must discover things about themselves, about each other, and move on past preconceived notions. That is if they want to be the family that they dreamed of.

What did you think about the book?

Several times I have talked about how I believe that what ruins some books for me is the jacked description. Sometimes I barely read them because of this. I do what I shouldn’t do and that is judge a book by its cover. I can sometimes tell if it is a genre of a book that I would enjoy just based on how the cover looks.. That doesn’t mean I won’t try a book with an unattractive cover – it just means it is a different way of evaluating what might be my kind of thing.

For “The Condition” I was expecting a book that took me through the years of a family. Focusing both on the condition and how that affected the family as a whole. And instead it was a family drama in which the condition was almost an afterthought.

I think that whether Gwen had any sort of disease or not her mother and siblings would have treated her in similar ways. They would have missed the problems that the youngest son had. The marriage was disintegrating not because of the condition (though it put strain on things) but instead because of their other issues with each other and their past.

So for me the book wasn’t a bad book – it just didn’t meet my expectations in what it was about. But I do have to say I enjoyed that the dad in the book was a faculty member trying to get his graduate students and post docs to get papers out. It had a nice parallel with members of my family – and I definitely identified with that part of the story!

What genre would you consider this?
Family Dynamics


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