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.