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Morningside Heights

A Novel

by Joshua Henkin

Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin X
Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Published May 2022
    304 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Page 4 of 6
There are currently 37 member reviews
for Morningside Heights
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  • Margot P. (Mandeville, LA)
    Common tale feels new
    The story about the effects of Alzheimer's on marriage, family, and career has been fictionalized countless times, but somehow Henkin makes it feel fresh and original. Everyday, flawed characters revolve around Spence, a Columbia professor stricken with early onset Alzheimer's. It's a read in just few sittings tale, and other than some jumps back and forth time periods, the story is straightforward and does not require a lot from the reader. A real strength of the novel is how it really is a story of New York City as well . As a southerner I felt as though I could be living there with the characters, not just visiting as a tourist.
    What kept me from giving it five stars was the fact that I did not emotionally connect powerfully with any of the characters. I am dealing with a family member with this awful disease so perhaps the detachment I have to have to face it, extended into the novel.
    All in all, a very satisfying read that would be a fantastic book club choice.
  • Susanna K. (Willow Street, PA)
    Thoughtful
    Morningside Heights is the journey of one family throughout the years. Spence, a well-educated and beloved college professor marries one of his students (Pru). They have a daughter (Sarah.) Pru learns that Spence had been married before (Linda) and has a son (Arlo) who lives with his transient mother. The moving and emotional stories of each of them was woven throughout the book. Dreams were shattered and decisions were difficult and heart wrenching leaving the reader with hope but sadness with the situations each of them encountered. There's a reality to lives we live especially when dealing with dementia and the difficulties your loved ones and caretakers encounter.
  • Joan P. (Owego, NY)
    Morningside Heights
    Morningside Heights could be called, the story of a marriage. Spence, a charismatic professor marries Pru, his student. He is an atheist and she has been raised in a Kosher home. He has a son, Arlo, being raised in a haphazard way by his ex wife, Linda. Together, Pru and Spence have a daughter, Sarah. To give Arlo some stability, he joins the family. Problems are handled with patience and love but not always solved. Spence begins to show signs of early onset Alzheimer's disease. That's when Ginny and her son Rafe enters their lives.

    Not only did I learn a little about Judaism, laugh a little, feel sad at time, I enjoyed getting to know characters who handled life's challenges with courage and grace.
  • Susan S. (Salida, CO)
    Family comes through
    A New York City, Jewish tale of a family – the long story of how they came to this time and what they did about it. The culture and conflict of being Jewish shines through but often without explanation or translation for the secular reader. There is a distance from the characters but with insight and depth. Some of the actions are improbable or confusing but lead the story along. For the reader intimately familiar with New York City and the East Coast, some of the references to time and space will have more connections. There are contemporary issues of health, aging, profession and connections that will resonate with all.
  • Catharine L. (Petoskey, MI)
    Morning side Heights
    Knowing friends dealing with dementia, this novel pulled me into this imperfect family - trying to understand each other, and how we fail; and yet we try again. I read the book in one day.
  • Lola M.
    Angst
    Morningside Heights takes yet another look at a fractured family who cannot seem to make good decisions to save their lives. A typical young woman goes to college and leaves when she marries a man who is utterly self-involved then spends years being gaslighted. I failed to empathize as each character lived being conflicted ... with themselves and just never really learned. The highlight was watching the growth of the children and the way they eventually come to understand each other in spite of the circumstances. There is hope for their future families.
  • Ilene M. (Longmont, CO)
    Not the besst read
    I wanted to like this book, but it fell flat for me. The premise of early onset dementia in one of the lead characters, Spence and the effect of the disease on the rest of the family had potential, but did not meet the test for me. I was not invested in any of the characters. The son's story did not ring true for me. I was also bothered by Pru's role in the story.

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