Cover Image: Conditions of a Heart

Conditions of a Heart

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I loved Brynn, I loved her friends and overall I loved the book, though I would have liked a more concrete ending. I can't wait to see more of this author in the future.

Was this review helpful?

Another great book from Bethany Mangle that you don’t want to miss out. This story follows a teen girl who has a chronic illness that she doesn’t want anyone to know and wants to experience a normal life. I really enjoyed this book. It was well written with a lot of self-development and showcasing invisible illness that you never know someone has. I love how it opens a reader’s mind and showcases so much of this world. The pacing was great and I really enjoyed the high school setting of the book. There are a lot of conflicts in the story which sometimes did feel a bit overwhelming but it also created Brynn to be who she is.

Brynn is the MC of the story and I really enjoyed her character. In some ways, I could relate to her but I really loved how much she developed. She opened up to others around her and she also learned what she wanted to do. There were many side characters in this book. I loved Brynn’s family and how they supported her and of course there will be characters you won’t like the minor antagonist. I also liked Oliver’s character as it shows how you have to trust a person and see how much they care. There is a bit of romance in this book but I wouldn’t truly call this a romance book as it focuses mainly on Brynn and her story.

The ending was well done and overall I really enjoyed this book. It was well-written and something I wouldn’t have easily picked up. The author did an amazing job of writing a different story from their other books. This is another book I have enjoyed from this author and will be reading more of their books.

*this book was sent to me by the publisher to give an honest review in return*

Was this review helpful?

Brynn Kwan leads a double life. To the world she is little miss perfect prom queen with the heartthrob boyfriend. On the inside, she is breaking under the constant struggle of living with a chronic disability.

This raw, but beautiful story of life with a disability has changed my perspective for the better. Mangle has done a fantastic job giving non-disabled readers a glimpse into what disabled people go through. For those who find themselves in similar situations, they will find validation within the story as well.

Was this review helpful?

The publisher was so thoughtful to send me this! They were definitely watching and saw that I have been trying to make sure that I read more chronic illnesses because they asked me if I’d like to read and review this and I almost screamed YES! I was given a finished copy and it went promptly on my shelf!

Ok so the trouble I had with this one was the main character. I didn’t understand her attitude. I mean I knew she was having trouble learning to love her body the way it was, but like she didn’t want help when she clearly needed it most times. There were times when I had to stop reading because she said she was hurting but she just let everything keep going because she couldn’t do it herself or something, and like what? Then when it got to the end it was like “Girl, what?” because she did like a complete 180 degree turn and acted like she was never mean to these people. I firmly believe in finally learning to be herself, but I also feel that it shouldn’t have been so easy to switch up like she did since she was originally so adamant.

As you can see I had a lot of feels when I read this. And I have no idea how I’m going to get this review to convey the big feelings I had. It was a whirlwind to be honest. I was frustrated with her, I was agreeing with her, I was yelling at the family, I was yelling at her, I was talking to everyone in this book and I really felt like I was in it. And that wasn’t always a good thing. But that’s how I know when I really like a book. Because if I’m feeling that many things, then I’m really into it.

This was a really emotional and raw look at the chronic illnesses she had tho. I had never heard of EDS, so I went on a Google search on what it happened to be. And man, I know she wouldn’t be happy with me, but I felt bad for Brynn. Because she kept saying she wanted a normal body, and I felt so sad for her. Not in the sense that I pitied her, but moreso that I knew she wasn’t happy and I would have done whatever I could to make her happy.

The romance in this was so on point! I was a little annoyed that as much as she kept saying she didn’t want to tell him certain things but she still really liked him and kept like flirting with him. But then she still broke up with him. It gave true meaning to the fact that you shouldn’t be with anyone until you can love herself, because old girl was going through it. But I wish she hadn’t taken him through this rigamaroll tho. Like she was teasing him for liking her and I didn’t like that.

This was an interesting book that I learned a lot from. I didn’t always enjoy it, but i knew why. Long story short, but I feel like this is author is now going to be one to watch from me. I hope y’all pick this up and let me know what you all think!

Was this review helpful?

“If my body is a temple,
then this illness has made it a ruin.”

A heartfelt own voices YA coming of age about a Korean American girl with hypermobile EDS, POTS, MCAS, and chronic pain about learning to loving herself and others. This story explores Brynn attempting to come to terms with a world that has moved beyond COVID, leaving those with chronic illnesses behind. Brynn’s story of self-discovery goes beyond the usual struggles teens may face in their coming of age as she fights to find who she is and what she wants out of life as the inevitable ticking clock of her illness looms in her future. This book is witty, funny, and full of sarcasm. Every single page was painfully realistic and the challenges that our FMC faces and the way she overcame them was beautiful. The way subtle, overt, and unconscious ableism was tackled was really powerful. This book was stunning, powerful, and emotional. Highly recommend (+) sapphic secondary characters

Was this review helpful?

You might not be able to cure my chronic illness, but Bethany Mangle single-handedly cured my reading slump and made me feel seen in ways I didn’t know I needed 😭

Finding pieces of yourself in a work of fiction—especially when you weren’t expecting it—is an absolutely indescribable experience. I used to say “no” on those Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability Forms because I didn’t think my chronic illness counted until I actually read through the list one day and lo-and-behold it was staring me in the face. I also didn’t expect to read a book about a little rare disease zebra with hEDs, MCAS, and POTS (hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Postural Tachycardia Syndrome if you’re not a fan of medical alphabet soup) and feel like someone cracked open my rib cage, pulled out my heart, and put the deepest, secret corners under a microscope to project onto an IMAX screen, but here we are.

Brynn Kwan and I are pretty different, so no one was more shocked than I was when parts of Conditions of a Heart resonated with me so much I got a little (okay, a lot) misty-eyed. I wish I had the words and energy to give Conditions of a Heart the proper, grushy review it deserves, but for now, I’d like to confirm that this, “funny and unflinchingly honest story about a teen who must come to terms with her disability and what it means for her identity, her love life, and her future” is in fact perfect “for fans of Talia Hibbert and Lynn Painter” and any human being who likes to read.

Was this review helpful?

One of the things that this book does so expertly is beginning in the middle. Brynn and Oliver have broken up. Brynn has crafted an entire pretend identity in which she isn’t disabled because she had some terrible experiences when the people around her knew about her health issues. We walk immediately into Brynn’s careful house-of-cards life with just enough time to understand what’s happening and why before the whole castle crumbles around her.

Another thing that I thought was really cool is Brynn’s relationship with her dad. He has the same condition she does, so he’s able to understand and empathize with her in a way that her mom and sister can’t, even though they want to help her.

Brynn has a really interesting character growth arc, too. At the beginning of the book, she’s convinced that keeping her medical diagnosis a secret will make her relationships with her peers less complicated and more stable. As the story progresses, though, she begins to see how many doors she closes by choosing to keep her disability secret (a choice that several characters are careful to point out is hers to make). It takes a lot for her to begin to imagine what a different life could look like, but once she does imagine it, she pushes up her sleeves and starts the work of trying to make that life happen.

All in all, I found this book to be a thoughtful, funny, and endearing story. I loved the romance elements, and the way the family and friend relationships impacted the story and grew through its telling. I think fans of EVERY TIME YOU GO AWAY by Abigail Johnson would really enjoy this one.

Was this review helpful?

This story follows the struggles of being a teenager with an invisible illness, as if high school isn't hard enough on its own. Brynn is constantly fighting her body for the chance to be a normal girl and do the things she thinks are expected of her, all while attempting to hide her difficult health journey. I really loved getting a look into a perspective that's not often seen in fiction, especially since hidden disabilities are so often misjudged in our society.

Was this review helpful?

4.5 glowing stars!

Conditions of a Heart by Bethany Mangle is not only a story about living with a chronic illness, it’s also a story about accepting and loving yourself and your family. Beautifully written, the author’s own experience growing up with a disability reverberated throughout the pages.

Brynn Kwan wants nothing more than to be ordinary. She desperately wants to be like her peers, a regular teenage girl. But Brynn inherited Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and POTS from her father, conditions she’s been hiding since she moved to a new school after being bullied for her disability when she was younger.

At the start of her senior year in high school, she can see the finish line, but when she steps in to stop a fight at school, the world she’s created begins to crumble around her.

I couldn’t help but feel for Brynn, that life has dealt her such an unfair twist, and then punched her when she was already down. The range of emotions and reactions Brynn goes through in the book because of her condition and because of how she is unfairly treated felt authentic, a result of Mangle’s own familiarity.

Reading Brynn’s journey from the lowest of lows to find her inner strength was a rewarding reminder to look at those around us with more patience and understanding because we truly don’t know what everyone else may be going through.

Not only is Brynn an enigmatic character, but so are all the side characters. Especially Brynn’s father who is living with the same condition, and Brynn’s mother and sister on the opposite side, loving people living with EDS. Mangle succeeded in showing that each side has its own set of struggles, heartbreaks, and triumphs.

Mangle also gives the reader some romance. It never felt like it was added in, it felt organic to the story. Not only has Brynn been hiding her disability from her peers, but from her long-term boyfriend Oliver, as well. When it became impossible to hide, she broke up with him, fearing he would only pity her. The romance isn’t the entire focus of the book, but I appreciated what it added to the story. And even though we don’t spend a ton of time with Oliver, he still leaves quite an impression.

Conditions of a Heart has it all: authentic characters, well-timed humor, and an irresistible emotional pull. I highly recommend this one and look forward to more from Bethany Mangle!

Was this review helpful?

The book deals with what Brynn goes through in her own head dealing with her illness. The ways she cops, and how she over analyses even the smallest thing someone said. I loved how the love story was a small part of the book but was well done. There is so much more than just relationships for a 18 years old and when YA Fiction deals with a character's story where the romance doesn't consumes most of the chapters it's right up my alley.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you so much, Bethany Mangle, Simon Teen, and Colored Pages Book Tours for sending me a copy for tour! 🥰🫶
I’ve made it a personal goal to read more books featuring disabled MCs as someone who is disabled (chronic migraines, autism, anxiety, depression, & OCD tendencies) themselves, I think it's very important for disabled stories and voices to be uplifted! So, I was happy to hear about Conditions of a Heart. Our MC, Brynn has hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, mast cell activation syndrome, and POTS. This story follows part of her senior year as she is struggling with an unfair suspension and her chronic illnesses. This story takes place over a short amount of time and it allows us to spend a lot of time with Brynn and I really appreciated it. I feel like I really know Brynn. As someone with a chronic condition, there were several times I related to Brynn and the things she goes through. I think this makes this book a wonderful contemporary read for any disabled reader, not just those with EDS, MCAS or POTS. One thing unique about this book is that it takes place during a post (cured) COVID-19 world. I don't think I’ve read anything that mentions COVID so it was a little weird at first, but honestly, it made the book feel even more real/relatable. This book features a second-chance romance, so if you like that trope, this book has it, and I think it's done well! This book makes me want to read more second-chance romances now! 😊 There wasn’t as much romance as I expected, but I kind of liked that. This book focuses on Brynn and how she views herself and her future. We get to see her mourn a future she wants and knows she can't have. We see her overcome this and grow throughout the book. Another thing I liked is the inclusion of a side sapphic relationship which Brynn is friends with both! Overall, I really enjoyed this one and can see myself coming back to it in the future. I am definitely going to be reading more from Bethany Mangle in the future. ☺️🫶
🌈Rep: Korean American MC with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, mast cell activation syndrome, and POTS, pansexual SC in a sapphic relationship, Dominican American SC, Vietnamese SC
Conditions of a Heart, by Bethany Mangle, is out NOW!

Was this review helpful?

I really liked the in depth point of view of being chronically ill. From friendships, to family to dealing with medical proffessionals who dont believe or understand her. I appreciated how Bethany didn't hold back in showing what trying to get medical care is really like from the perspective of someone with POTS and EDS. It was cathartic to read if happen to someone else after years of experiencing it myself.

Was this review helpful?

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this release and I’m delighted to say it did not disappoint! Thank you to the author and publishers for an early copy!

CONDITIONS OF A HEART is set in a post-COVID world where COVID is no longer a threat, but the death, trauma, and lasting effects of COVID/COVID denial are still very real. I was worried at first about reading a book with this setting, but the author has handled it beautifully.

This book is absolutely dripping with raw emotion that reverberates from every page. You can really feel Brynn’s (and the ENTIRE disability community’s) grief, fury, and exhaustion from being left behind, dismissed, pitied, and accused of faking illness for attention. As someone who is chronically ill and disabled, I could feel Brynn’s emotions even more intensely because they reflect and mirror my own. When we finally get to see Brynn reach her tipping point, it’s intense, emotional, and satisfying.

Brynn’s journey was incredibly cathartic to read and had me frantically highlighting every chapter. In that way, I wanted a tiny bit more from the ending and just more time with these characters! Brynn’s development felt a little rushed at the end and I would’ve appreciated more time to sit with her revelations.

CONDITIONS OF A HEART doesn’t pull its punches when it addresses racism or ableism. I really appreciated how the author highlighted the intersectionality of Brynn’s experience. Brynn’s family also felt like real people in all their shades of gray.

The romance was sweet but not really my particular cup of tea because second chance romance isn’t my favorite. I struggle to connect with the romance when most of its development is off page before the book begins. However, I’m sure that those of you who love that trope will appreciate it here.

Despite its darker aspects, this book is also extremely funny and ultimately hopeful in a gentle, delicate way. CONDITIONS OF A HEART is a raw, beating heart disguised as a book and I’m going to be thinking about it for a long time…

Trigger/content warnings: ableism, racism, injuries/medical content, COVID/pandemic/associated trauma, past suicidal ideation.

Was this review helpful?

This book is adorable and has great disability representation. As someone who lives with chronic illness and doesn’t go around broadcasting it I really appreciated the idea of this book. The chronic illness representation was on point. However it fell short in the other aspects and that’s why I am forced to give it a lower rating. It just didn’t flow super well and the main relationship had some moments I didn’t love. All in all worth a read just not my favorite.

Was this review helpful?

Conditions of a Heart is such a lovely book with a lot of great disability representation, and how hard it can be to navigate all that comes with being a young person while also having a disability. Brynn is trying to pretend her condition doesn’t exist when we first meet her. She is trying to put forth the perfect persona, and wants no one to know that she has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or how significant a part of her life it is. It makes sense, too, because we find out very early in the book that the last person that Brynn opened up to treated her horribly, and as such, she doesn’t want to open herself up to that kind of hurt again.

Obviously, there is a lot at play in this story. Not only is Brynn’s health a major focus, but there is quite a bit of injustice at her school that she has to deal with. She is also trying to navigate friendships, and future plans, and all the normal junk that comes with growing up. She ended things with her boyfriend rather than explain to him why she needed surgery, and when she ends up suspended from school and having difficulties with her illness, she decides to just bail on school altogether.

Her dad, who also has EDS, has such a strong bond with Brynn, and even though it is clear that her mom and sister love her, they simply can’t relate. Brynn has also kept all her friends at arm’s length, so it is great to see how those relationships all transform and evolve over the course of the story, just like Brynn does. Also, a lot of fabulous commentary on how messed up the health”care” system is, and the kind of treatment that folks with chronic illness have to face- even from the doctors who are supposed to care for them, and extra especially for female patients.

Bottom Line: A lovely and heartfelt book with great rep for chronic illness, as well as wonderfully developed characters, messages, and relationships.

Was this review helpful?

Conditions of a Heart is heartfelt and tender. It's a book that examines disability and illness in a 'post' COVID world especially for teens. It's a book that explores the ways our outlook changes. The images and treatments of others and how it impacts how we see ourselves. Brynn's story explores how those who are disabled, chronically ill, or vulnerable to sickness have, in many ways, been left behind by society's desire to rush back to 'normal'. This quote I think sums it up so perfectly, "afraid for us, afraid of us, and afraid to become us".

How there are some who just want to forget, to move 'past it', but for many their worlds have been changed and they can never go back. This new 'normal' is still dangerous. It also examines the ways doctors are not knowledgeable enough about Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and how they don't listen to patients. Conditions of a Heart is, in many ways, about Brynn exploring her own perception of herself, her future, and her life approach. With good days and bad days, with the feeling she can't count on her body, does she just ran towards the end of the tunnel trying to outrun the bad days?

Was this review helpful?

This is the type of book I wish I'd read as a teen with an invisible congenital heart condition!

We meet Brynn who has hEDS and PoTs as she tries to act as normal as possible, not letting anyone see how difficult life can get for her when completing every day tasks most people take for granted. Brynn attends a private school on scholarship and upholds her popular persona by hiding a big part of herself. But after being unfairly suspended for her part in a fight that wasn't her fault, she starts to re-evaluate her choices.

I enjoyed the different types of relationships in this book. The one Brynn has with her father is amazing! He is someone who understands her struggles and who she can joke with. I particular felt an emotional tug to this one as my son inherited a heart condition similar to my own and I feel I will know what he is going through as he gets older. In contrast her relationship with her Mum and sister can be strained - they want to help but she feels like they don't get it. Brynn's relationship with her ex Oliver plays throughout the book and how her condition is why she distanced herself from him. The romantic element is a side story to the real message of finding yourself and being comfortable sharing the parts of you that are most vulnerable.

This was an emotional read sprinkled with humour. And as someone who uses humour as a coping mechanism I loved it, especially the internal chats she has with her body parts (my favourite being the Shakespearean style one). The key message is around Brynn's journey of acceptance and pa inf her own identify.

I think it's a must read for anyone with chronic conditions, especially those that are invisible. It would be good to read for people who know someone going through similar conditions to have an idea on the challenges they face.

Thank you to NetGalley, Simon and Schuster and Bethany for an early copy 😘

Was this review helpful?

This was such a beautiful novel that really tugged at my heart strings. I love the way Mangle was able to weave together teen love, angst, and important topics of disability and fitting in. It all went together really seamlessly and made for such an interesting read. The representation in this book made me feel seen as someone who has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and all the dissections of disability and ableism made me wish that there were more books like this.

Was this review helpful?

i want to thank NetGalley for sending me this e-arc.

this book was truly beautiful. there are very few times where a book leaves me speechless, but this was one of those times. from cover to cover, i finished this book in one single day and it was spectacular. Bethany Mangle was able to fully encapsulate what it feels to be chronically ill and not want anyone to know. keeping a secret that is so immensely heavy is a heartbreaking task, and every emotion that the lead character, Brynn Kwan, felt, i have also felt at one time or another.

'conditions of a heart' was one of my favorite stories, and i already cannot wait to revisit it time and time again in the years to come.

Was this review helpful?

This #ownvoices YA book about living with an invisible disability and chronic pain was INCREDIBLE!! I've read a few books with hypermobile Ehlers Danlos rep but this is definitely a standout! Brynn Kwan is a scholarship student at a private school and a pep rally altercation sees her unfairly suspended for a week and kicked out of all her senior year activities.

Taking this as just one more sign that she should start living her life on her own terms while she can, Brynn decides to drop out of school altogether. Luckily her parents, sister and cousin help her realize there are some things worth fighting for and while her life might not be like everyone else's she can still make the best of it.

I especially loved the way Brynn has internal conversations with the parts of her body giving her pain - it was so realistic and painted a vivid picture of what it's like to live with EDS (and POTS) - two rare genetic conditions she inherited from her father.

The second chance romance with her ex boyfriend Oliver was another highlight for me as was the David and Goliath fight Brynn takes on with the school board that sided with the boy whose parents use money to excuse his bad behavior.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review! I highly recommend this for fans of authors like Talia Hibbert, Melissa See and Jules Machias.

TW: ableism, discussions about life during COVID

Was this review helpful?