A stunning first novel, both literary and thriller, about a retired surgeon with dementia who clings to bits of reality through anger, frustration, shame and unspeakable loss.
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 bestseller and 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.
Something has happened. You can always tell. You come to and find
wreckage: a smashed lamp, a devastated human face that shivers on
the verge of being recognizable. Occasionally someone in uniform: a
paramedic, a nurse. A hand extended with a pill. Or poised to insert a
This time, I am in a room, sitting on a cold metal folding chair. The room is not familiar, but I am used to that. I look for clues. An office-like setting, long and crowded with desks and computers, messy with papers. No windows.
I can barely make out the pale green of the walls, so many posters, clippings, and bulletins tacked up. Fluorescent lighting casting a pall. Men and women talking; to one another, not to me. Some wearing baggy suits, some in jeans. And more uniforms. My guess is that a smile would be inappropriate. Fear might not be.
I can still read, I'm not that far gone, not yet. No books anymore, but newspaper articles. Magazine pieces, if they're short enough. I ...
Some of the recent comments posted about Turn of Mind. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.
"Do no harm." What are the ironies of the surgical amputation of Amanda's fingers?
I agree with the others in that there is no harm done to a body...the harm done is in removing the clue that would have truly solved the death. - sweeney
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
Are there times when we know more than Inspector Luton does? More than Jennifer?
Throughout the book we know more than Jennifer but the progression of her Alzheimer's makes this more evident. I think that she tried to supress some of the thoughts surrounding the death of her friend, and some of the flashbacks were certainly NOT ... - shirleyf
Are there ways in which Jennifer is privileged in her dementia?
Certainly her affluence makes her somewhat privileged in her dementia, allowing her to live at home with care. - connieh
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).
Full Review (661 words).
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 ...
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