This provocative, funny, perceptive novel, the third and last in Mendelson’s Morningside Heights trilogy, tells the story of the trials of over-conscientious parenthood, as the devoted Braithwaites watch their bright, gifted eighteen-year-old take her disturbing initial steps toward independence, integrity–and failure.
The action is set in Morningside Heights, the Manhattan neighborhood surrounding Columbia University where the Braithwaites live in a community in which adults’ aspirations are firmly focused on the achievements of their children. Talented, troubled, and self-centered, Jane Braithwaite makes her well-meaning upper-middle-class family miserable, enmeshing them in the complicated lives of a homeless family, a poor teenager with no family, and a would-be family foundering on childlessness. When catastrophe finally threatens, all their dilemmas are resolved by the same stunning and unexpected means. The Braithwaites involve old and new friends in their struggles–a lovesick clergyman, a lonely doctor and his baby-obsessed wife, a libertarian billionaire, a money-loving philosopher, and a hard-bitten but sexy poverty activist. This is a fast-paced, beautifully crafted, moving tale of parent-child discord, class conflict, and young love. Erudite and playful, it offers readers a feast of rich satisfactions.