With 27 out of 28 reviewers rating it 4 or 5 stars, Alice LaPlante's Turn of Mind is a top pick among BookBrowse readers! Here's what they have to say:
Some readers enjoyed learning about Alzheimer's disease from a first person point of view and were riveted with LaPlante's narrative style:
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). Told in an episodic internal narrative sprinkled with dialogue, this story draws the reader in with its insight into the slow deterioration caused by dementia (Carolyn G). I found the characters to be complex and real, and I empathized with all of them. I credit the author for drawing me in to the lives of these people, not all of them likeable (Molly K). The style, format, characters, plot, and storyline make this about the best book I have ever read (Cynthia A)!
While others were completely engrossed by the murder mystery storyline:
"[LaPlante] gives the necessary clues (as well as some red herrings) to keep us interested in what happens next. This is so much more than a who-done-it; it is a superbly written mystery (Sandra H). I found that I had to pay attention, and the desire to solve the murder kept me turning the pages (Corinne S). The murder victim 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 (Cindy A). I flew through the book, hardly able to put it down. It had the added suspense of a murder investigation, interesting history, which gets revealed in lucid moments, and peripheral characters who made me wonder about their motivations (Lori).
Nevertheless, a few readers found room for improvement:
The inherent danger of a disjointed narrative is the way it keeps a reader from becoming immersed in a story. LaPlante makes an ambitious play by telling a story through a broken mind, but the result is less than spectacular (Jon V). 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 (Cindy A).
But overall, the majority of BookBrowse readers were captivated by LaPlante's vivid characters:
The characters are memorable and the interplay of their relationships adds to the complexity of the book (Kathleen W). 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 (Cindy A).
Who should read this book:
I 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 (Carolyn G). Book clubs will enjoy learning about this disease through the eyes of Jennifer, her daughter Fiona, and her son Mark (Corinne S). If you require a feel-good ending to your fiction, you'll want to pass this one by because LaPlante unflinchingly depicts the progression of her character's disease (Leann A). This is a most remarkable book, and I have been recommending it to everyone (Rosemary K).
This review was originally published in July 2011, and has been updated for the May 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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