Unreliable narration at its best!
LaPlante's brilliant writing made me feel that I was suffering dementia along with the main character. The mystery element is the central plot but is not what makes this book interesting. It is getting to know the flawed characters through the unreliable narration. I did not want to put the book down, and I am still thinking about it a week later.
Rated of 5
by Kristen H. (Lowell, MA)
Turn of the mind took me on a rollercoaster of emotions. It combines the sadness of having the family member perspective of watching a loved one become a shell of themselves, the couple of perspectives, when they are lucid and when they are not, from the family member with Alzheimer's in many different situations, as well as a murder mystery all wrapped up into one. A Great read.
Rated of 5
by Cindy A. (Bryan, Texas)
A Fascinating Look at Declining Memory
Turn of Mind is a unique murder mystery in which the prime suspect, a former surgeon, suffers from progressive dementia. She struggles to remember that her friend and neighbor, Amanda, is dead, but has no memory of the event. The reader learns about events as Jennifer recalls them, or when she hears others discussing them, or reads back entries in her memory journal. A lengthy middle section barely touches on the murder plot, although it is still fascinating as it provides an intimate view of Jennifer’s mental decline from her own perspective.
The murder victim, who was Jennifer’s best friend, is an odd duck. She comes across as a woman who was difficult and full of jealousy; it is hard to see why Jennifer forged such a strong friendship with her, but that just adds to the mystery.
One of the best facets of Jennifer’s character is that, no matter what her mental state, she always demands the respect due to her. She reminds us that even those in the last stages of Alzheimer’s are human beings who should be treated with dignity. The ending is somewhat controversial, but I think few readers will object to it.
Turn of Mind works better as a psychological novel than as a murder mystery, since the majority of attention is given to Jennifer’s state of mind and her decline, but it is fascinating nonetheless.
Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by 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
Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by Jon V. (Mechanicsburg, PA)
A solid effort, but falls short
The inherent danger of a disjointed narrative is the way it keeps a reader from becoming immersed in a story. We are constantly jostled and thrown around. I appreciate that LaPlante gives good reason for it -- a narrator with dementia -- but ultimately, the story just didn't grab me. She made an ambitious play by telling a story through a broken mind, but the result is less than spectacular.
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