by Jennifer Haigh
Available in hardcover, Kindle and audio download. Harper, 2008; 400 pages.
The title refers to "the human condition." Following the McKotches, a seemingly perfect New England family, from 1976 through 2001, readers learn that all is not what is seems. Vacations in Cape Cod, private schools and ivy league educations cover heartwrenching dramas. Money issues, Turners Syndrome (something I didn't know anything about before reading this novel), stoic expectations, drug additictions, homosexuality, denial, lack of communication and faulty conclusions all lead to divorce, loneliness, heartache and complete disconnect.
This book was very well written. The author has an amazing gift for description and a vocabulary that excels what is offered by most current novels. That said --
I did not like this book. It was melodramatic and depressing. The conclusion was trite and not enough to redeem this book. There was no hope offered. I'm still questioning: what was the point? Is it about the dangers of unspoken rules (present in every family) or that our fates our determined while we're still children? Is it about growing old with your mistakes? The importance of communication? The value of forgiveness and trust? I really have no idea. All of these themes were present but so subtle I'm left melancholy, thinking of all the other books I could have read instead.
Final Thoughts: This book makes a great case that all humans are sinful. What she left out is the redemptive person of Christ. With Him, our lives don't have have to be such a mess! I might consider reading something else by this author. She truly is talented, but I don't recommend this book.