John Thorndike | The Last of His Mind |


In this engrossing memoir, author Thorndike tells a touching story of family, death, discovery and devotion, in which Thorndike probes his journalist father’s accomplishments and losses, his relationships and his wife’s tragic suicide…A beautiful book, this memoir reveals the painful chaos of Alzheimer’s, as well as the strength, faith and unexpected joys that come with caring for a loved one in his last days.  —Publishers Weekly (Starred review)

A poignant memoir, dreadful and tender. —The Cleveland Plain Dealer

A brave, moving story of a son’s devotion to his dying father… Thorndike’s prose is serenely beautiful and his patience in caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is extremely admirable. An affecting work of emotional honesty and forgiveness. —Kirkus Reviews

The first few pages of The Last of His Mind are dynamite, in their quiet way. They open up a world that, if you’ve known it and lived in it, conks you on the head, bashes your memory, brings it all back in a rush. . . . This memoir is far too elegantly written to ever state it directly, but the reader is made aware of the high honor involved: The author honors his father in the most profound way and is blessed, in turn, by participating in the most taxing event in his father’s life. —The Washington Post

His journey is recounted with great descriptive power and compassion. —Cape Cod Times

An honest and powerful portrayal of the effects of the combination of old age and Alzheimer’s disease and the love between a son and his father.” —ForeWord Reviews

One would not think a book about Alzheimer’s disease could be so lovely and inspiring, heart-warming even, but John Thorndike’s The Last of His Mind somehow manages to be all that. . . . An enlightening, profound, beautifully written book. —Mansfield News Journal

“What could have been a sad journey down a cul-de-sac becomes, in John Thorndike’s hands, a gorgeous, expansive book about families—particularly fathers and sons—about marriage, and about the influences that form us and against which we rebel. As Thorndike is a sensualist, The Last of His Mind is also about touch, a little-considered side of those relationships. I found myself thinking about my own father and son throughout but most of all I found myself unexpectedly caring a lot about old Joe Thorndike, and grateful for the words of the son as the father’s slipped away.” —Ted Conover, author of Newjack, Coyotes, and The Routes of Man: How Roads Are Changing The World And The Way We Live Today

“This book tells a hard story, the relentless decline of a father’s memory and self-awareness. John Thorndike writes a beautiful sentence, a beautiful page, and describes his father’s last year with piercing clarity, but also great warmth. He opens a world we will all have to face.” —Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones, Wild Mind, and Old Friend From Far Away.

“In The Last of His Mind, John Thorndike has given us far more than a book on dealing with Alzheimer’s. This taut, clear-eyed memoir of a son caring for his father in his final days is an act of consummate literary bravery, allowing us to witness the final dance between two flawed and admirable men. With stunning candor, memorable detail and vital insight, Thorndike has created a book about death that we all desperately need to live.” —Rob Wilder, author of Daddy Needs a Drink and Tales from the Teachers’ Lounge

“Here in detail is a story we fear for our loved ones, a story we fear for ourselves. Yet Thorndike also conveys the humor and joy, the contemplation and compassion, and the reconciliation and healing that were part of this journey. The result: The Last of His Mind is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming.” —Lady Borton, author of After Sorrow: An American Among the Vietnamese

“The frankness of this haunting memoir is totally disarming. Thorndike addresses the banalities and small tragedies that attend the great event of a lifetime with an unblinking eye. Told in his luminously clear prose, the plain story of the unraveling of a mind and a life find its way into the heart like our own blood. An important, beautiful book.” —Henry Shukman, author of The Lost City

“A really important book: A Baedeker for a generation who,as people live longer and longer, find themselves on a journey they never dreamed of and so never prepared for, caring for elderly parents with deteriorating health and dwindling mental faculties.” —Nancy Mairs, author of Remembering the Bone House, Waist-High in the World, and A Troubled Guest: Life and Death Stories