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Morningside Heights


A tender and big-hearted novel about love in the face of loss, from the award-...
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When Spence's son Arlo moves in with Spence, Pru and Sarah, the family dynamic is altered. Did you see this as a positive change or a negative one, and why?

Created: 09/23/21

Replies: 16

Posted Sep. 23, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2732

When Spence's son Arlo moves in with Spence, Pru and Sarah, the family dynamic is altered. Did you see this as a positive change or a negative one, and why?

When Spence's son Arlo moves in with Spence, Pru and Sarah, the family dynamic is altered. Did you see this as a positive change or a negative one, and why?


Posted Sep. 23, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 364

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

The dynamic of the family definitely changed. Sarah wasn't the only chid and center of attention any more. Spence was intent on catching Arlo up on his education. I think Spence was so academically inclined, he focused a bit too much on that aspect in regard to Arlo. Spence needed to be more accepting in regard to just building a relationship with him. Pru tried but was tested by Arlo.
Spence was glad to have his son there.
Sarah and Arlo did build a relationship of sorts.
Pru tried but was tested by Arlo's presence.
Arlo so wanted to be accepted, Unfortunately, he tested the family limits, wanting them to prove their love for him. I always felt sorry for Arlo.


Posted Sep. 23, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Maggie

Join Date: 01/01/16

Posts: 324

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

Spence was thrilled that Arlo moved in with them. Pru was happy also and tolerated him at first but later it became hard for her. Sarah was not happy. She was no longer the only spoiled child and she felt that her father neglected her spending so much of his time with Arlo.


Posted Sep. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paulak

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 209

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

Oh my. Positive and negative. I so empathized with everyone in this equation. Poor Arlo with his capricious, child-like mother, Spence who really wanted the best for Arlo, Pru trying to support where possible and Sarah who felt competitive with Arlo but also intrigued by him. This dynamic was crafted in such an authentic, true way - like the rest of the book. I think this dynamic is so very similar to that experienced in other fractured families.


Posted Sep. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barbettet

Join Date: 10/01/20

Posts: 19

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

The author really captured what it is like to put a blended family together. The parent wants to make up for not being present, the stepparent tries to be the perfect stepparent but is conflicted, the siblings that live with the family are displaced as number one and are resentful. Arlo gets a taste of what he has missed which makes being there painful. We feel his pain every time he does something self-destructive. The change is both positive and negative.


Posted Sep. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 333

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

Paulak and barbettet do an excellent job of cataloging the impact, both positive and negative, of the blending of Spence's family. Sarah actually turns out to be the most resilient, although that change is a long time coming. Spence seems to me to have the most trouble as he tries to make up for lost time in imposing his own values on Arlo. Henkin does a great job of communicating the family dynamics.


Posted Sep. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rosienick

Join Date: 03/20/16

Posts: 27

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

Although Spence was happy to have Arlo move in with them and Pru was so very accepting, it seemed that Arlo could not forgive Spence for the years that he was not a part of Spence's life. This resentment was the cause for Arlo's discontent. Considering how welcoming Spence and Pru were to Arlo, I think this was a positive result for the family at first but eventually Arlo felt he could not really fit in and it became a negative experience for all four of them.


Posted Sep. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 284

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

This was going to be a challenging situation no matter what. Blended families can be difficult and blessed at the same time but bringing n an older child is certainly challenging


Posted Sep. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
peggyt

Join Date: 08/10/17

Posts: 215

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

It seemed to be somewhat positive because Sarah, although it was hard for her, came to relate to Arlo to some degree at least.


Posted Sep. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melissa c.

Join Date: 01/10/21

Posts: 62

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

I think Arlo moving in with Spence, Pru and Sarah was a mixed bag. I agree with the others in the discussion that blended families can be challenging. Really, most family dynamics are challenging, blended or not. I thought having Arlo in the home added an interesting twist and balance of another man/male to the household. I was sad to see things not work out.


Posted Sep. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
juliep

Join Date: 04/07/12

Posts: 180

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

I think it was definitely a plus for Arlo because he at least received an education, embarrassing though it was to be so far behind his younger sister at first. And he released that he was dyslexic, which had to be a relief for all of them, and many of the learning mechanisms he was taught he ended up using through out his life. But Spence was such an academic that he failed to realize that he needed to appreciate Arlo for who he was and whatever talents he possessed. But many parents do the same thing.


Posted Oct. 01, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lorrained

Join Date: 12/04/20

Posts: 50

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

When Arlo moved in with the rest of the family, everything changed. Everyone's hot button was pushed! Sarah had to share. Spence had to see achievement from a different perspective. Pru, still not focused on any of her own personal goals, had to integrate, arbitrate, and negotiate dealing with a son from a prior relationship, a daughter now feeling left out, and a husband who was taking all the wrong steps to move forward.


Posted Oct. 01, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
johnw

Join Date: 03/11/12

Posts: 80

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

The dynamic of the family definitely changed when Arlo moved in with the family. Two very significant ones: Sarah went from being an only child and the center of her and parent's universe to having to compete for attention. Spence wanting so badly to feel loved as Arlo's father and make up for lost years together focused disportionate amount of time and attention on Arlo. When they discovered Arlo had a learning disability the time and attention grew more focused on him versus Sarah.


Posted Oct. 01, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djcminor

Join Date: 03/14/19

Posts: 145

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

The family dynamic certainly changes when Arlo moves in with the family. He has basically no education except streetsmarts. Sarah teases him and openly calls him stupid because he does not know as much as she does because of her education. Spence is delighted to have his son with him. He has longed for this connection and Linda has denied both Spence and Arlo their time together or she has begrudgingly allowed Spence some time with Arlo. Pru is also happy to have Arlo, at least at first. She becomes more and more disenchanted with him as time goes on.


Posted Oct. 02, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scottishrose

Join Date: 07/24/11

Posts: 114

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

I'm not sure Arlo being around changed the family dynamic for the better. Spence seemed to try to make up for what he had missed with Arlo at the expense of Sarah. Pru tried to deal with Arlo and his issues. But in the end he left. I think that had more to do with the fact that he didn't believe he deserved to be part of that family. I don't think his mother had really ever made him feel wanted and that affected his relationships with the family when he moved in with Pru and Spence.


Posted Oct. 10, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
AmberH

Join Date: 05/09/18

Posts: 62

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

Most change has both positive and negative components, including Arlo moving into his father's house. The dynamic was changed, but I think overall it was positive for a father and son to have the opportunity to be closer connected, which they both seemed to be wanting before the move.


Posted Oct. 10, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
gerrieb

Join Date: 09/03/19

Posts: 125

RE: When Spence's son Arlo moves in...

Like most changes there were both positive and negative aspects. Spence had a chance to bond with his son. Although because of Spence’s nature he took the full on academic route with Arlo and didn't let the relationship grow in other dimensions. Pru tried to fill in the gaps but with Linda’s poisonous tales lingering in Arlo’s thoughts that was very difficult. Sarah was no longer an only child in her home and had to grow and change in ways that were hard for her. Although, she and Arlo did develop a relationship. I do think Arlo’s inability to trust and be absorbed into the family put a great deal of stress on the family as a whole. He couldn’t help himself, he was driven to test them, push them as far as he could in ways they didn’t know what to do with. Due to Linda’s behavior none of them, including Arlo had the skills necessary to make that very difficult situation be successful. After all, that’s what Linda wanted all along- for Arlo and Spence and his family merging to be a failure.


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