Thursday, January 1, 2009

"The Conditon" Jennifer Haigh

I spent an utterly enjoyable New Year's Day at home with my husband and kids today (well, two of my kids, my oldest is visiting Grandma for a couple of days and taking a break from his "annoying" little brothers). We got up late and Jay made us French Toast, something that he's incredibly good at, but only does occasionally, which makes it a treat. We then stretched out on the couch together and watched a "Kitchen Nightmares" marathon playing on the Food Network (oh, how I adore Chef Gordon Ramsey!) Jay decided around 3:00 that he wanted to turn on the XBox 360 and play his game for a while (Call Of Duty: World At War, in case you were wondering) and I took the opportunity to finish reading Jennifer Haigh's "The Condition". One thing that I love about having a husband who plays video games is that I get to read while he plays. Often if I try to read while he's watching TV I get so disctracted that I can barely read more than a page!

What an amazing book this was. We meet the McKotch's right away, a proper New England family spending time in the family beach house in Cape Cod. There's Paulette, the prim and proper wife, formerly a Drew, with breeding and background to spare. We meet her workaholic scientist husband, Frank, well-meaning but truly unable to love anything but his scientific research. The three McKotch children are Billy, the eldest, just entering into adolescence, Gwen, the middle child and the only girl, and Scott, the hyperactive youngest child.

Fast forward 21 years and the family situation has changed drastically. Gwen has been dignosed with Turner's Syndrome, a genetic condition that has prevented her from maturing. She is a woman trapped in a child's body, unable to react socially the way the people around her do. Paulette and Frank have long since divorced, unable to weather the tensions that Gwen's disease have caused (this is Paulette's version of the cause of the divorce). Billy is living in New York with his partner, unable to tell his family that he's gay. Scott is teaching at a school that he dislikes, somewhat unhappily married to his wife Penny, and saddled with two rambunctious children. Things certainly haven't turned out as planned for the McKotch's. Paulette is miserable, Frank lonely, Gwen anti-social, Billy inhibited, and Scott unhappy.

The rest of the novel follows the McKotch's as their lives change and they begin to try to salvage what their lives have become. I was absolutely unable to stop reading once I hit page 300. Haigh has a writing style all her own; this book is fast-paced and enthralling. A must-read for any fiction fan!

Up Next: "It Sucked and then I Cried" by Heather B. Armstrong, the creater of Dooce.com. Heather started off as a blogger in Salt Lake City and now has written a book about her pregnancy and the month's following her baby's birth.

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