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.
Debra V. (Kenosha, WI)
Turn of Mind
Haunting story of a brilliant woman's descent into dementia. Turn of Mind is written in a way that takes you into Dr. Jennifer White's fragmented life and thoughts and allows you to feel the pain and confusion with her. The mystery of her best friend's death and her conflicted relationship with her children are filtered through her disease. The best novel I have read this year!
Rachel B. (Waynetown, IN)
Intriguing and unsettling picture of Altzheimers
The story was not spectacular, but I mean that in a good way. It was the story of a woman who had raised a family, pursued a successful career, and then (where we meet her) begins to lose herself and all the memories/feelings that she had cultivated. The murder isn't all that important in the end, except that for me it was a really dramatic picture of how dementia starts to eat away at your ability to be accountable for yourself. If you can't rely on your memory, where can you gain conviction or hold onto even a shred of confidence? A very compelling story, filled with people it felt like I knew. Like many other readers, I found the story reminded me very much of Still Alice. I would highly recommend this book to a book club.
Rosemary K. (Saginaw, MI)
The Fragility of Mind
Alice LaPlante's Turn of Mind is a brilliant novel. The story unveils the complex story of Dr. Jennifer White, a victim of Alzheimer's, who may have committed a murder.
The narrator is usually Dr. White, who relates situations as she views them--sometimes she is in the past (which seems like the present), and sometimes she is even practicing medicine, having slipped away from the institution where she has been committed. Other persons sometimes relay their thoughts.
LaPlante's skillful writing keeps the reader transfixed. This is a most remarkable book, and I have been recommending it to everyone.
Cheryl W. (Cassville, MO)
Turn of MInd
The adjectives on the back cover of the book describe it well, "extraordinary, haunting, startling, poignant, compelling". I read it in one sitting and was sorry to see it end. It is thought provoking, disturbing, and very sad. Even so I would recommend it to just about anyone. It made me think of dementia in a new way.
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.
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.