Conditions of a Heart by Bethany Mangle

Published on May 15, 2024

teenage girl facing a boy with ribs shown over her

Reviewed by Samantha Calderone

Brynn Kwan has spent the last few years of her life pretending to be normal by hiding her Ehlers-Danlos syndrome from people at school. Brynn has done everything to keep her chronic illness a secret and has created “Perfect Brynn” a popular and healthy version of the real Brynn. When a fight breaks out at school, and Brynn gets the blame she is removed from all extracurricular activities and her “Perfect Brynn” façade begins to crumble.

Brynn, now faced with too much time on her hands, begins to see the cracks behind her mask. Not only did her friends not know the real her, but she gave up her boyfriend of four years to prevent him from finding out the truth about her health.

As Brynn struggles with maintaining the perfect version of herself, she begins to question if hiding the truth is worth what she stands to lose.

Bethany Mangle has written a heart wrenching story about the aftermath of Covid-19 and the realities that many with chronic illnesses have faced since things have “returned to normal”, while also touching upon the everyday struggles a chronic illness can cause.  Mangle used her own experiences with Ehlers-Danlos as inspiration for Brynn’s story. The fact that the author also has a chronic illness and can write from her own past adds to the story and makes it even more impactful.  

Mangle does an excellent job of balancing the medical aspects of Brynn’s life with the everyday struggles of a high school student. She presents Brynn’s chronic illness in a way that all readers can understand and relate to.

This novel is perfect for fans of The Fault in Our Stars. 


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