Turn of Mind, a literary page-turner about a retired orthopedic surgeon suffering from dementia and accused of killing her best friend, was a New York Times hardcover bestsellerand named a Best Book of the Year by Newsday, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and Kirkus Reviews.
When Dr. Jennifer White's best friend, Amanda, is found dead with four of her fingers surgically removed, Dr. White is the prime suspect. But she herself doesn't know whether she did it. Told in White's own voice, fractured and eloquent, a picture emerges of the surprisingly intimate, complex alliance between these life-long friendstwo proud, forceful women who were at times each other's most formidable adversary. As the investigation into the murder deepens and White's relationships with her live-in caretaker and two grown children intensify, a chilling question lingers: is White's shattered memory preventing her from revealing the truth or helping her to hide it?
A startling portrait of a disintegrating mind clinging to bits of reality through anger, frustration, shame, and unspeakable loss, Turn of Mind is a remarkable debut that examines the deception and frailty of memory and how it defines our very existence.
Some of the recent comments posted about Turn of Mind. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.
Alice LaPlante answers questions about Turn of Mind
Erin G. asks: Some have mentioned that Jennifer is not a very likable character, and Amanda even less so. Did you like your characters? How did you feel about them?
I realize that either (or both) characters might not to be to everyone's taste.... - Alice LaPlante
Are all the mysteries, in fact, explained at the end?
I also agree with the comments on the rushed ending. However, it didn't upset me, I guess because of the dementia premise. My understanding was not only was Amanda going to reveal where the money came from...but that this would result in those... - sweeney
Is the past really the past in Turn of Mind?
Do any of us really know what the past and present is for us? Our memories are all so subjective and selective. For people with Dementia memory is even more blurred. - debadoo
This is her story. As crazy as it sounds, we need Jennifer's point of view. Without it, the mystery elements
Or the reasonable doubt cannot be realistically portrayed. The insanity or sanity of her situation increases
With every single word... - debracoley
Overall, what do you think of "Turn of Mind"?
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... - Santa Fe Cowgirl
SO...Who "done" it?
I did not suspect Fiona, I thought it might have been Mark because earlier in the book he seemed to be going off the deep end from drug use. - suej22
Was this story believable? Does it matter?
Yes, the story was believable! I really liked the way the author told the story from the Doctor's point of view. You could see the confusion of the doctor, how the doctor was suffering from not being able to recall things that happened just... - Santa Fe Cowgirl
What about Amanda?
I thought this character was very confusing. It was awful the way she tried to steal Fiona.
The whole embezzling subplot made no sense to me. How would Fiona have been involved in it, and why would Amanda care so much about the issue. - debadoo
What do you think of the cover?
We REALLY struggled over the cover! The publisher at Grove, Morgan Entrekin, took a personal interest in making sure it was right--and rejected covers from half a dozen very talented designers. My editor called me in a semi-panic because the book... - Alice LaPlante
What draws Jennifer and Amanda together?
Jennifer and Amanda challenged each other on a few different levels (I certainly can't picture them having a discussion about Dancing with the Stars). It is interesting that each viewed the other as difficult, as an adversary. As we see toward... - dorothyt
Would your book group enjoy reading and discussing Turn of Mind?
I teach summer literature classes for teachers in my district. One class I always do has adult books on the book list and this year we read Turn of Mind. It was an interesting discussion because some people loved it (one teacher read it in a day... - melissap
This was truly 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 tearful, joyful, and humorous. The writing is so skillfully done that the story flowed seamlessly from beginning to end. 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 (Judy G). (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
San Francisco Chronicle
Artful, ambitious, and arresting.
Rare... LaPlante's fine novel is both lyrical and shocking.
A stunning act of imagination.
The Daily Beast
One of the most indelible I have read in years - I was stunned, silent, and shaken.
[An] un-putdownable page turner... Combines murder mystery with family drama, bringing new meaning to the term 'psychological thriller.'
The Washington Post Book World
Gripping... Skillful... Unique... [A] compelling whodunit... LaPlante has created an unforgettable portrait of the process of forgetting.
The New York Times Book Review
To call Turn of Mind a thriller - or a chronicle of illness, or a saga of friendship for that matter - would confine it to a genre it transcends. This is a portrait of an unstable mind, an expansive, expertly wrought imagining of memory’s failures and potential. ...Vivid ...Haunting and original.
San Jose Mercury News
Engrossing... Exhilarating... A page-turning mystery.
This dazzlingly adroit debut novel is full of suspense, rueful humor, and scalpel-sharp insights into the intricacies of love and friendship - as well as the resilience of the human spirit.
Los Angeles Times
Creates a startling range and texture of fear. From agonizing, slow-motion-car-crash moments to the ironic frissons of a good horror movie, [LaPlante] hits every bell. ...The complexity never fades... The razor sharp quality of [Jennifer's] thoughts, even at their most fragmented, gives her entire ordeal a Twilight Zone feel. Up until the final stages of the disease, she still somehow manages to retain the quality of a lone sane person adrift in a world that definitely isn't.
This poignant debut immerses us in dementia's complex choreography. ...[A] lyrical mosaic, an indelible portrait of a disappearing mind. 4 Stars.
Starred Review. Heartbreaking and stunning, this is both compelling and painful to read.
Starred Review. Mystery fans should be prepared for a subtle literary novel in which the unfolding of Jennifer's condition and of her past matters far more than the whodunit.
Starred Review. Haunting... This masterfully written debut is fascinating on so many levels, from its poignant and inventive depiction of a harrowing illness to its knowing portrayal of the dark complexities of friendship and marriage.
Starred Review. A haunting story masterfully told.
Colin Harrison, author of Afterburn and Risk
Hey readers, Alice LaPlante has arrived. Turn of Mind features a crazy-smart narrator in a gripping family drama that is itself a brilliant murder mystery. LaPlante possesses both the wild audacity to attempt such a tour-de-force and the pure talent to pull it off. Totally compelling, dark and yet at moments also darkly funny, completely unforgettable. Lord knows what LaPlante will write next. I can't wait.
Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier.
An electrifying book, impossible to put down. Gripping, thought-provoking, humane, funny, tragic, it is masterfully done, a tour de force that can't be a first novel - and yet it is. I'll read whatever LaPlante writes next, and the sooner the better.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Suzanne G. Engaging book An engaging book! An orthopedic surgeon suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Her best friend is dead. Did Jennifer commit a crime and murder her? The book searches thoughts and actions of those troubled by dementia and the problems of family members... Read More
Rated of 5
by debadoo Not Very Mysterious I wish the author had left out the mystery aspect of the book, which frankly made little sense. It also made the characters, who weren't very likable to begin with, even less so. That said, the portrayal of dementia was interesting. I am... Read More
Rated of 5
by Dorothy T. Engrossing novel This is a combination of murder mystery and a psychological examination of declining memory due to the ravages of Alzheimer's and its effects on the patient and those around her. The novel is written in an innovative style, partly based on the... Read More
Rated of 5
by Erin G Gripping and original This was an engrossing and suspenseful read, despite the fact that the main character wasn't particularly likeable. Watching a respected physician lose her mental integrity, her memories, and her ability to care for herself was tragic; that she... Read More
Rated of 5
by Karen R Hard to put down! A riveting story of a highly accomplished woman, Dr. Jennifer White, succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease. The writing style is original; the story told thru Dr. White's eyes, whose reality changes from day to day, minute to minute. It... Read More
Rated of 5
by Karen R Riveting! A riveting story of a highly accomplished woman, Dr. Jennifer White, succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease. The writing style is original; the story told thru Dr. White's eyes, whose reality changes from day to day, minute to minute. It... Read More
For more information about Alzheimer's, see the backstory to Still Alice.
Alice LaPlante's debut novel, Turn of Mind has received an overwhelming amount of praise and has been selected by Indie Booksellers for the July 2011 Indie Next List.
Though this is her first novel, LaPlante is certainly no stranger to writing. For over 20 years she has worked as an award-winning journalist, a corporate editorial consultant (for IBM, HP, Oracle, Microsoft, Sun, Deloitte, Symantec, and Palm, among others), and has taught writing at the university level. She has written for Forbes ASAP, BusinessWeek, ComputerWorld, InformationWeek, and Discover, in addition to many other national publications, and she currently teaches creative writing at San Francisco State University and Stanford University, where she was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and held a Jones Lectureship. She has a B.A. in Rhetoric and an MBA from the University of Illinois in Urbana....
Keeper is a fiercely honest "glimpse into the dementia abyss" - an endlessly engrossing meditation on memory and the mind, on family, and on a society that is largely indifferent to the far-reaching ravages of this baffling disease.
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