Overall, what do you think of "Turn of Mind"?
Join Date: 11/16/10
Join Date: 01/12/12
I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved it. It compelled me to read it at every opportunity. It was a "read beneath the covers" book, though I don't have to do that sort of thing and never have. It's more that I read it when I know I should have been sleeping but I chose to be exhausted rather than put it down before my eyes wouldn't stay open any longer.
I'll probably expand more a bit later, once I've let a few other people talk!
Join Date: 03/05/12
I am always picking up books, reading a chapter, forgetting about them, starting another... With this book I read it over a weekend. I couldn't put it down, I couldn't stop thinking about the main character and we are all at the mercy of our minds in one way or another.
Join Date: 05/31/11
A terrifying story. A brilliant mind turning into shadow page by page. I can't think of anything worse than to lose your mind in this way; with moments of absolute clarity mixed with hallucination, illusion, terror, anger and frustration. As awful as the situation is, Alice LaPlante portrays the characters with brilliance. You feel what Jennifer feels. You relate to her children and helpers. A marvelous rendering of a very sad story.
Join Date: 04/28/11
It was a thoughtful and accurate depiction of dementia. I wish the basic premise had been something other than a murder investigation, because that is hardly a typical situation. Instead of adding interest to the story, I felt that it distracted the reader from the real subject of the book and the final "revelations" were sort of hokey. Nevertheless, it was readable and informative.
Join Date: 05/22/12
The telling of this story was creative and engrossing. I loved how I felt frustrated and demented along with the main character. Jennifer, however, was not a terribly sympathetic character---kind of a ruthless primadonna personality---but the depth of her functional intelligence (a highly 'regarded' and perhaps accomplished hand surgeon) made the 'crash and burn' of her 'mind' all the more compelling. I loved to not-like her.
Join Date: 12/10/11
This was a remarkable book and hard for me to put down. I admired the author's writing style - the fractured thoughts, journaling mostly through the perspective of Dr. White. I felt I was struggling along with her as her disease progressed, and I felt such sympathy for her children - mostly her daughter. I found myself drifting off from time to time thinking of my own father who has dementia. A very powerful read.
Join Date: 10/13/11
I also found it hard to put down. It was well written and I could empathize with what she was feeling as she tried to piece together what was going on around her. It was both disturbing and fascinating to have it told by someone in her state of mind. The book was well written and the author's style of jumping from first person to third person narrative was well done. Since I have a family member with dementia, I think it's an accurate portrayal of the frustrations and the ups and downs of the disease.
Join Date: 06/14/11
The book was a good read and most informative. My mother had dementia and before she died, she was as difficult to help as Dr. White but I had no perspective then as to what to expect. I do wish I had been able to read this book before I went through the experience of helping my mother! Well done.
Join Date: 05/23/12
I would not have believed that a novel centered on a woman's dementia could be a page-turner, but for me it was. Oddly, I didn't find any of the characters to be very likable or sympathetic, but the fascination of watching someone's mind disintegrate was frightening and fascinating.
Join Date: 04/21/11
I really, really liked reading this book. The story was so very fascinating. Many times I had to reread parts to keep myself in focus—who said what, who thought what, why did this or that happen. It was so compelling that I read it straight through for six hours. My dad had dementia before he died. And I had just seen an "Independent Lens" (PBS) segment about a woman with Alzheimer's so I was in tune with the book. Such a scary subject.
Join Date: 04/10/11
I have to agree with the others who say this book was hard to put down. It only took me a couple of pages to accept and then become engrossed in this novel (sorry) approach to writing. The style gave an atmosphere of reality to Jennifer's dementia, and added to the suspense and mystery of the story. Alice LaPlante takes on a lot here, including caregiving, family relationships, marriage, careers, and friendship, and handles them all with skill. Well done!
Join Date: 12/30/11
Join Date: 05/01/12
Join Date: 06/28/11
Wow - I'm surprised, given all the rave reviews here, at how much I disliked this book. Although I think the idea of the book is good, which is why I wanted to read it in the first place, it just fell flat for me. I realize that depicting the Alzheimer's condition requires depicting a lot of garbled thinking and a person who is sometimes lucid and sometimes not. But - the book became SO tedious for me to read. I also didn't like any of the characters and, by the end of the book, didn't even care if she was guilty (and if she was, so what?). The one thing that would have helped this book, in my opinion, is to have made it into a novella, which would at least have eliminated the tediousness of it. Good idea for a book - too much filler.
Join Date: 05/26/12
I absolutely loved this book. The short snippets of thought made it seem like a quick read because I never had to put it down in the middle of a long chapter. The second-person perspective is interesting and rather unusual in writing, and it made for a compelling read. Alternating between the present and the past also created a sense of unease that made me want to read more.
Join Date: 05/27/12
I liked this book but felt oddly disconnected from Jennifer in comparison to Alice in Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Something about Turn of Mind didn't ring as true for me. Both my maternal grandmother and my mother had Alzheimer's, giving me intimate knowledge of the manifestations of this soul-robbing disease. I was a little disappointed, and I thought it could have benefited from tighter editing.
Join Date: 05/28/12
Join Date: 10/14/11
On many levels I liked this book but as was said above it did get a bit tedious. One thing that bothered me most was not the novel but the way it was published - with so much white filler and big gaps to make the book seem bigger than it really was. That kind of formatting always puts me off - makes me think someone is puffing up the content. A good book does not need to be "thickened" or padded with blank spaces.
I liked the way the author portrayed Jennifer and the responses of those around her. I recently had a friend's husband die of Alzheimer's and the book was quite believable. The frustrations, under breath comments, the anger, the fog of it all seemed very true. The writing style with the journaling was a great way to move the story along.
The murder & it's solving was weak and not believable. I wish the author had made that theme more real. The murder could have happened, the investigation, the ending all could have been made more intricate.
Join Date: 04/10/11
In response to marganna's post above, I don't think the gaps were intended to "pad" the book to make it seem longer. The double spacing was used, along with the changes from straight to italic lettering, to show the switch from one character's dialogue to another, or, in some instances, to show a change in Jennifer's train of thought. For me it helped me follow the conversations better.
Join Date: 10/15/10
I listened to the audio version so was unaware of the typography and spacing in the print version; but the jumps from one character to another and between Jennifer's trains of thought were very clear and, having read the comments about the different typographical styles in the print version, I am even more admiring of how it was rendered in the audio version!
Join Date: 10/15/10
By the way, Alice LaPlante, will be joining the conversation in about a week to answer questions about Turn of Mind - I think those of you who have commented on whether the depiction of Alzheimer's is accurate or not will be particularly fascinated to find out about the author and her family's experience with the disease. Personally, I have to say that while I have read various nonfiction articles and books about Alzheimer's, because my father is in the mid to late stages, none came close to helping me understand the effect on the sufferer as Turn of Mind did.
Join Date: 04/13/12
Join Date: 05/24/11
I couldn't put it down. Sometimes, figuring out where I was, and what the voice was was a bit confusing, but it was appropriate, based on who the voice of the story. I thought it was amazing how the author could use the mind and voice of the Dr. to slowly unfold the bits and pieces of the story. Fascinating!
Join Date: 05/16/11
Join Date: 01/14/12
At first the book was hard for me to get into because of the way that it was written. The block paragraphs and no chapters was a little strange and I had a hard time figuring out who was talking but once I got past all this I could not put the book down. It was one of my favorites for this year. I think too what compelled me so much was that my grandfather had Alzheimer's so I could relate with the characters. Will be looking for everything that this author writes from now on.
Join Date: 10/06/11
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.
Join Date: 06/01/11
Join Date: 06/03/12
I was very interested in this topic and found the book kept me thinking. I appreciated the way it wasn't always crystal clear, but clear enough to keep things moving.
They typography/layout didn't bother me in this case, but ordinarily such techniques do.
I too found the ending less satisfying than the rest of the book, and I wanted it to be more substantial in a few ways, but overall it engaged me on a factual and an emotional level.
Join Date: 07/06/12
I did not enjoy the murder mystery aspect of the book; I found it quite contrived. That said, the book gave a compelling portrayal of dementia. I have a close family member afflicted with this terrible disease. I often wonder what he is thinking and feeling. I didn't know if I could handle this book, but I found it quite interesting, and easy to read.
Join Date: 06/01/11
Join Date: 04/22/11
It was an intriguing look into the horror of dementia. However, I did not feel a connection with any of the characters in the book. I found them all unlikeable and had an especially hard time feeling sympathy for the murder victim or even, at times, the main character. I had very mixed feelings overall.
Join Date: 04/14/11
It was a good story. To see how this disease affected the Doctor and her family was very interesting. I was not living close to my grandparents when my grandfather had dementia, so I was not part of his life except on a few occasions. My grandfather "guarded" my grandmother nightly with a rifle on his lap--all night. We finally had to remove from the house all of his guns (about 5). The Doctor's children in this story did not know she had a surgical knife with blades at her disposal. That was scary. Sometimes this book read like a thriller; other times, it was more calm. Sometimes it was hard for me to believe that she could have killed her friend, and yet, everything kept pointing straight to her. Maybe in this "demented" state, she really could have been the person behind her friend's death! I kept wobbling back and forth and when the end came, I almost did not believe it! That is what "good" stories do for you!
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