Carolyn G. (Catskill, New York)
When visions are enough
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante is that unusual combination of psychological character study and murder mystery which does not disappoint on many levels. Foremost in quality is the format of this novel which is written through the eyes of a retired vascular surgeon, Jennifer White, who is suffering from Alzheimer's and is "a person of interest" in the murder of her best friend, Amanda O'Toole.
Amanda has been found dead in her kitchen with four of her fingers surgically removed and Jennifer either cannot or does not remember being involved in her murder. Told in an episodic internal narrative sprinkled with dialogue between Jennifer and her children, her caregiver and a personally involved police detective, this story draws the reader in with its insight into the slow deterioration caused by dementia. The novel is a quick read, which is not to say that it is not arresting or compelling in nature. I came away from reading this book with a greater empathy for the inner world of those suffering from this dreadful disease.
The murder plot was secondary, the police work minimal and the ending a not-unexpected twist. Overall I would recommend this novel to readers whose lives are touched by Alzheimer's as well as to those who are looking for a quick read on a serious medical subject.
Kathleen W. (Appleton, WI)
Turn of Mind
This is one of the best books that I have read in a very long time. The author captures the tragedy of early-onset dementia in a skillfully crafted and very readable format. The characters are memorable and the interplay of their relationships added to the complexity of the book. I will definitely be recommending this book to both of my book clubs.
Liz M. (Fair Haven, NJ)
I very much enjoyed Turn of Mind. I found the portrayal of dementia to be very true to life. I found Turn of Mind to be quite a good mystery as well as an interesting study in how secrets and envy keep us together while tearing us down. I recommend Turn of Mind
Dorothy Sheehan, (Hendersonville, NC)
Turn of Mind by Alice Laplante
Laplante's first novel is a brilliant portrayal of a powerful women's journey to oblivion. Loss of control in itself is horrifying. Losing control of your mind is the ultimate nightmare. Through Dr. Jennifer White's often disjointed and poignant journal we travel this journey with her to discover what is true in her world turned topsy-turvy where even memories are suspect.
The characterization is powerful, the writing superb and understated, the narrative haunting. It ranks near the top of my list of most unforgettable books.
Debbie M. (grand junction, CO)
Turn of Mind
Turn of Mind is an amazing book. Jennifer White is a doctor who's best friend is dead and Dr. White is the prime suspect. Dr. White has alzheimers and so doesn't know if she killed her friend. Alice LaPlant goes into the mind of someone with alzheimers and shows us the confusion and sadness that goes along with the disease. LaPlant is an excellent author and gives you great insight into the mind of an alzheimers sufferer.
JD l(ibrarian, NY)
Murder and the Mind
Dr. Jennifer's White's best friend has been murdered and she finds herself a suspect. But there is a further complication - Jennifer is suffering from advanced Alzheimer's dementia and half the time can't remember that Amanda is dead, never mind if she was involved in her murder. Told completely from the point of view of Jennifer's deteriorating mind, you suffer with her as she slips further away from herself and those she loves. Your view of reality is hers - fractured, unsure and changeable as she has good days and bad days.
While the murder and its solution is interesting in itself, it is only one aspect of the novel. It is also a fascinating look into the mind being lost to a horrible disease and a study of relationships - what binds people together and tears them apart.
Sandra H. (St. Cloud, Minnesota)
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
Dr. Jennifer White, a 64-year-old orthopedic physician suffering from dementia is the prime suspect in the murder of her best friend, Amanda. Three of Amanda’s fingers have been surgically removed and Jennifer specialized in working with joints in the hands. Jennifer tries to make sense of what is happening but her dementia has progressed to the point that she cannot always identify faces , remember names or even care for her own basic daily functions. Jennifer’s companion keeps a notebook detailing daily activity, her children come to see her trying to find out what happened and the police keep taking her back for interrogation. Using short sentences and paragraphs, the author lets us experience Jennifer’s fragmented and disjointed thinking as she moves back and forth in her mind trying to remember her past and her friendship with the dead woman. This movement causes us to experience the painfully confusing life of a person losing her life to Alzheimers while giving the necessary clues (as well as some red herrings) to keep us wanting to learn what happened. Yet, this is so much more than a "who done it." At the end, I felt drained yet satisfied. This is a superbly written mystery.