"Turn of Mind" scares the pants off aging parents and their children.
Alice LaPlante expertly puts a reader into a dementia burdened mind. The main character, Jennifer White, is a doctor spiraling down a darkening rabbit hole. The reader searches for truth between imagination and remembrance. A murder has occurred and the prime suspect is the 61 year old doctor.
The scare of the story is not the murder; it is the terror of forgetting and the burden of living. Doctor White tries to remember faces and names. She raises hell with her family and nursing staff. Her two children are reluctantly compelled to commit her to a complete care facility because Dr. White's dementia exceeds a care giver's ability to manage her at home.
LaPlante's story is a fairly good mystery but it is most interesting because it reminds a reader of the tragic and scary consequence of dementia. The poor, at least today, have Medicaid for this long life disease. The rich have insurance. The middle class have bankruptcy. "Turn of Mind" is a primer on what dementia means to a sufferer and his or her family.
Catherine M. (Grand Forks, ND)
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
In her novel, Turn of Mind, Alice LaPlante explores themes of contrition, disintegration, and indebtedness. The story concerns Jennifer White, a retired orthopedic surgeon; her husband, James, who is deceased; her two adult children, Mark and Fiona; and her best friend, Amanda, who is the victim in an unsolved murder case. It is also about the debilitating effects associated with Alzheimer’s disease, which, as the story opens and the reader learns, is Jennifer’s unfortunate fate—“to awaken from nightmares and find they were, comparatively, the sweetest of dreams” (p. 297).
Through the blurry lens that is Alzheimer’s and with the help of supporting characters, Jennifer tells her story—her loss of professional esteem, the difficult relationships she shares with her husband and children, and her entangled and turbulent friendship with Amanda.
LaPlante makes effective use of voice. The first half of the story is told from the main character’s point of view. The reader comes to know and understand Jennifer through her introspective and soul-searching observations. By the story’s third part, the author has switched to second person voice—a more passive and outward “you”—as the reader begins to lose touch with Jennifer’s thoughts. In the final section and through mostly third-person story telling, Jennifer is all but lost to the reader and to herself.
Cynthia A. (Grand Rapids, MI)
One of the best books I've ever read!
I dropped everything, canceled everything to read this book, it was that good! The style, format, characters, plot, storyline, all together, make this about the best I have ever read! I will recommend this book to everyone. I can't wait to suggest it to my book club.
Katherine Y. (Albuquerque, NM)
Super compelling book
This book was just gripping. I put aside some other books just to read this one and finished it easily over the course of two evenings. The real strength of the novel is in the rich personality of the main character. The "mystery" itself is not very compelling, but watching the brilliant main character deal with the loss of her own "self" is riveting. Explores a subject that has been underaddressed in modern literature. Several areas of the book would be very interesting book group discussion topics: female friendships, marriage and what makes a person him or her
Judy G. (Carmel, IN)
This truly was a book I couldn't put down, read in two sittings on the eve of the first anniversary of my mother's death from Alzheimer's complications. I had only brief glimpses of what my mother's reality was like as I tracked her decline from a distance. This book filled in the blanks for me--at alternating times tearfully, joyfully and with humour.
The writing is so skillfully done that the story flowed seamlessly from beginning to end. The masterful integration of intrigue with what would have been a powerful book without it is amazing and brilliant.
I believe the BookBrowse readers will place this book at the top of their recommendation list to others. As for me, I'll remember this book not only for the writer's expertise but also for bringing me greater understanding of the last years of my mother's life.
Lori (Wayland, MA)
Turn of Mind
A great read. I flew through the book, hardly able to put it down. It reminded me of Still Alice, as far as imagining life with dementia and the vulnerability associated with it, but it had the added suspense of a murder investigation, interesting history which gets revealed in lucid moments, and peripheral characters who made you wonder about their motivation.
Leann A. (Springfield, IL)
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
This book was an emotionally difficult read for me. Alice LaPlante does such a good job of taking you through the inevitable mental decline of Dr. Jennifer White that it's at once fascinating and devastating to watch. If you require a feel-good ending to your fiction, you'll want to pass this one by, because LaPlante unflinchingly depicts the progression of her Dr. White's disease.
I would definitely not classify this as a mystery though. The murder is really incidental.