Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Condition by Jennifer Haigh

''Surviving The Holidays'' With Valerie Bertinelli



I was in Barnes and Noble the other week and found a whole table of bargain books, many of which where thrillers. Yum! It was a struggle, but I managed to stop myself at three.

My third pick was The Condition by Jennifer Haigh. The book flap got me because it purported to be about a family in which one of the daughters had a rare condition called Turner’s Syndrome. I immediately thought, aha, this will be a Jodi Picoult type book like My Sister’s Keeper or Handle with Care. Shhweet.

I was wrong. It’s even better. The book doesn’t focus on the girl’s disease at all. FYI, Turner’s Syndrome is a rare genetic condition in which a female doesn’t experience puberty. They don’t reach a normal height, develop breasts, or have periods. There is no cure, but it can be managed with treatments such as estrogen.

Haigh takes the idea of arrested development and applies it to all the characters in the girl’s family. Each one is stuck, locked into various destructive behaviors. The dad is an academic, buried in his research, and boy howdy, could I identify. My spouse had the disgusting habit of staying at his office until 9 pm, but baby, we broke him of that habit—you bet your Pampered bottom we did.

Other characters also struck a chord with me, but describing why would only embarrass all of us, so I won’t go there. But this book is gold, the writing superb. It’s one of those page-turners that you suck down like chocolate mousse and once it’s gone, you pout. When I see a Jennifer Haigh novel on the bookshelf again, I’m buying.

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