Conditions of a Heart

S. & S./McElderry. Feb. 2024. 352p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781665937634.
Gr 9 Up–Korean American teen Brynn Kwan is powering through her senior year, keeping her spirits up with the possibility of a Prom Queen crown. Living with the connective tissue disorder Ehlers-Danlos syndrome makes even the fun parts exhausting, especially since she’s kept her medical history a secret. Everything falls apart when Brynn is suspended from school after being mistakenly accused of starting a fight with a rich jock, when in reality she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. When Brynn is also barred from participating in any senior activities (including prom), she spirals into despair, storming out of the house and attempting to drop out of school. The only bright spot in a terrible situation is that she may have rekindled things with her cute ex, Oliver. After finally filling her friends in on her condition, they band together to appeal Brynn’s suspension with the school board. Oliver, on the other hand, is crushed that she kept such a huge secret from him, dumping her with unfounded anger. The angsty conflict is buoyed by Brynn’s snarky sense of humor and a text message–style inner monologue. Brynn’s nuanced relationship with her father (also living with EDS) and her resilience add a layer of authenticity to the narrative, though secondary characters are not thoroughly fleshed out.
VERDICT A serviceable exploration of the complexities surrounding teen chronic illness. Despite some shortcomings in character depth and a frustrating dynamic in the romantic plot, this novel is recommended for purchase in larger collections.

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