Morningside Heights (2021)

by Joshua Henkin

Spence is a brilliant professor at Columbia University, author of many books, and recipient of many academic honors. He and his wife, Pru, have one child, Sarah, who has just left for medical school when Spence begins to show signs of early-onset Alzheimerís disease. The other major character is Arlo, Spenceís son from a brief early marriage.

Author Joshua Henkin explores how each of them is affected by Spenceís condition. Self-sacrifice is again asked from Pru, who gave up a possible acting career when she married Spence. Arlo, dyslexic and volatile, still carries around resentment about parental neglect. Sarah is more stable but tries to keep her fatherís diagnosis a secret from her medical school colleagues.

Although Henkin treats Alzheimerís impact on a family with honesty and sensitivity, his detached tone keeps the reader from feeling the full weight of the tragedy. Also, the book might have been stronger with a focus more on Pru instead of multiple perspectives.


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