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Turn of Mind [Kindle Edition]

Alice LaPlante
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (296 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A stunning first novel, both literary and thriller, about a retired orthopedic surgeon with dementia, Turn of Mind has already received worldwide attention. With unmatched patience and a pulsating intensity, Alice LaPlante brings us deep into a brilliant woman’s deteriorating mind, where the impossibility of recognizing reality can be both a blessing and a curse.

As the book opens, Dr. Jennifer White’s best friend, Amanda, who lived down the block, has been killed, and four fingers surgically removed from her hand. Dr. White is the prime suspect and 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 friends—two proud, forceful women who were at times each other’s most formidable adversaries. 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.


Editorial Reviews

Review

A New York Times Editor's Choice
An NPR, Vogue, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Globe and Mail Summer Reading Pick

“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. . . . In LaPlante’s vivid prose, [Dr. White’s] waning mind proves a prism instead of a prison, her memory refracted to rich, sensual effect. There are moments of steely, surgical calm, the language tight and fractured . . . and there are moments of blooming, antic poetry. . . . LaPlante has imagined a lunatic landscape well. The twists and turns of mind this novel charts are haunting and original.”—The New York Times Book Review

"Gripping . . . Skilfull . . . Unique . . . [A] compelling whodunit . . . . LaPlante has created an unforgettable portrait of the process of forgetting."—The Washington Post Book World

"Rare . . . LaPlante's fine novel is both lyrical and shocking." —Boston Globe

"Remarkably poignant . . . An artful, ambitious, and arresting attempt to capture the thoughts and feelings, by turns confused, conspiratorial, canny, and clear, of a person in the throes of mental illness . . . LaPlante reminds us all, passionately, that no matter what the state of our health, reality can be elusive and subjective."—The San Francisco Chronicle

“Expertly paced . . . A stunning act of imagination.”—Chicago Tribune

“This book is to 2011 what Anna Quindlen’s Every Last One was to 2010—the dread-filled, un-putdownable page turner. . . . Skillfully written in the memory-loss first person, the book combines murder mystery with family drama, bringing new meaning to the term ‘psychological thriller.’”—Vanity Fair

"Haunting . . . Blackly humorous . . . Remarkable . . . [Told in] the crisp, super-intelligent, and brutally confused voice of Dr. Jennifer White . . . LaPlante is certain in her footing—the verisimilitude here is unnerving . . . [as] she takes us into a world of gauzy shadows and scattered puzzle pieces."—Newsday

"Daring and confident . . . A tour de force."—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“This poignant debut immerses us in dementia’s complex choreography. . . . Dr. White is . . . by turns brilliant, hallucinatory, and heartbreakingly vulnerable. . . . [A] lyrical mosaic, an indelible portrait of a disappearing mind.”—People (4 stars)

"This dazzlingly adroit debut novel is full of suspense, rueful humor, and scalpel-sharp insights into the intricacies of love and frienship—as well as the resilience of the human spirit." —More

"A brilliant, even audacious conceit . . . Pitch-perfect."—Chicago Sun-Times

"Not only was I mesmerized by LaPlante's ability to put the reader in the circumstance of a slowly evaporating ability to stay in the present, but the ending of the book was also one of the most indelible I have read in years—I was stunned, silent, and shaken."—The Daily Beast

"A heart-wrenching yet thrilling read . . . It is a mystery, thriller, medical story, family drama, and just an all-around good read."—Deseret News

“How does LaPlante pull a story out of [a protagonist] with no memory? In a word: deftly. . . . A clever whodunit. . . . If this portrait is correct, Jennifer is a sad but true reflection of a disease that ebbs and flows unmercifully. One minute she stares in wonder at a commonplace item like a toothbrush, the next she reacts with almost animal cunning, and the next—almost miraculously—she displays the most salient facets of her former self. The novel’s ending alone will show what a long and winding road it is from confused to comatose.” —The Seattle Times

“Moving . . . Unusual . . . Cleverly and well written . . . I was quickly hooked.”—Literary Review (UK)

“[An] accomplished thriller . . . Vivid . . . Turn of Mind is an incisive, humane exploration of how we can rail against our need for close relationships with others, feeling that they undermine our independence, even as we keep going back for more.”—Times Literary Supplement

"A page-turner . . . 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." —Los Angeles Times

"Brilliant . . . Turn of Mind is relentless and chilling."—The Globe and Mail

"The basic premise of this debut novel is pure genius . . . Masterfully written and satisfying."—Shelf Awareness (starred review)

“Executed with skill and elegance . . . . LaPlante’s real achievement here is creating a character who—even in the midst of losing her mind—is concrete, complicated, smart, and sympathetic. . . . Painfully sad and utterly true.”—Bookreporter

"Engrossing . . . Exhilarating . . . A page-turning mystery."—San Jose Mercury News

“A powerfully affecting novel.”—Easy Living (UK)

“A highly sophisticated, exquisitely written literary thriller.”—Daily Mirror (UK)

“This morbidly funny page-turner will have you guessing until the end.”—She (UK)

"A unique premise for a murder investigation . . . Compulsively readable . . . The mystery of the mind has surely been solved."—New York Journal of Books

"Turn of Mind is one of my favorite books of the year. I can't wait to see what LaPlante comes up with next." —Karin Slaughter, author of Fallen

“What bumps Turn of Mind up into the exalted Daphne Du Maurier/Ruth Rendell category of ‘literary thriller’ is LaPlante’s fearless and compassionate investigation into the erosion of her main character’s mind. . . . Turn of Mind reads as a series of fragmentary-but-illuminating first-person conversations between Dr. White and various other characters. . . . In the short space of these dialogues, Dr. White’s grip on reality fades in and out, like an iffy radio frequency and time frames collapse into each other with fluid ease. We readers become (nervously) at home in the haunted house of Dr. White’s head . . . [and] LaPlante’s turn on the suspense formula is especially ingenious because, as anxious-but-enthralled readers, we have to agree to be entrapped inside Dr. White’s crumbling mind for the duration. . . . Forgetfulness, it turns out, may be something of a mercy after all.”—Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

"Heartbreaking . . . Telling the story from the point of view of a woman whose mind is slowly failing could have been gimmicky, but LaPlante completely pulls it off."—Ladies' Home Journal

“Impressive . . . Part mystery novel, part family drama . . . LaPlante has a gift for rhythm, crafting rat-a-tat passages that are their own pleasures. . . . It’s no small feat that LaPlante manages to spin a coherent tale despite her main character’s profound disorientation.”—Entertainment Weekly

"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.”—Ann Packer

"A uniquely entertaining murder mystery. LaPlante's portrayal of the prime suspect's escalating dementia is gripping, unnerving, and utterly brilliant."—Lisa Genova

“The Stone Angel meets Momento in this literary page-turner. . . . Smart, strong . . . With its timely and compelling storyline, LaPlante’s debut is ambitious . . . Both an impressive technical stunt and a moving portrait of a difficult, undaunted woman.”—Winnipeg Free Press

“Haunting . . . [A] startling portrait of a fiercely intelligent woman struggling mightily to hold on to her sense of self. . . . 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.”—Booklist (starred review)

“LaPlante’s literary novel explores uncharted territory, imagining herself into a mind, one slipping, fading, spinning away from her protagonist. . . . LaPlante tells the story poignantly, gracefully, and artistically. Jennifer White, as a physician, as a wife, as a mother, leaps from the pages as a powerful character. . . . A haunting story masterfully told.”—Kirkus (starred review)

“This extraordinarily crafted debut novel guides the reader through family drama that is becoming all too familiar. That the author is able to do it so convincingly through the eyes and voice of [a woman with Alzheimer’s] is an amazing achievement. Heartbreaking and stunning, this is both compelling and painful to read.”—Library Journal (starred review)

"Impressive . . . A subtle literary novel."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Poignant . . . It’s hard to believe that this is a first novel—it’s so carefully written and satisfying...

Review

"For those of a certain age, death is far less frightening then dementia, the central issue of this brilliant debut. Told in the first person by a physician slowly descending into darkness, Turn of Mind is relentless and chilling."
"--The Globe and Mail"
"LaPlante does a great job of building suspense, finishing with a twist that most won't anticipate. Beyond being just a satisfying summer read, this book is an examination of a long, complicated friendship, and the capacity of two people who love each other to hurt each other, too."
--"Maclean's"
""The Stone Angel" meets "Memento." . . . A smart, strong debut novel. . . . Timely and compelling."
"--Winnipeg Free Press"
"LaPlante has created an unforgettable portrait of the process of forgetting."
"--The Washington Post"
"Artful, ambitious and arresting."
"--San Francisco Chronicle"
"An impressive first novel."
"--Publishers Weekly "
" "
""Fascinating on so many levels.


Product Details

  • File Size: 426 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (July 5, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055UTQ4G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,219 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
159 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mesmerizing Exploration of a Deteriorating Mind April 29, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Dr. Jennifer White is sixty-four-years-old, suffering from Alzheimer's and a person of interest in the death of her best friend, Amanda. Her days are filled with a reality that blurs and fades and sometimes is intensely real. The police suspect Dr. White is involved in Amanda's murder. She's an orthopedic surgeon and four of Amanda's fingers have been removed with surgical precision. But is someone with advanced dementia capable of committing a skillful murder without being detected?

The story is told through Dr. White's eyes. It's eerie to be inside the head of someone whose reality changes from day to day. We meet her children, her caregiver, and through the visions she experiences, her husband, parents and Amanda herself. As the disease progresses, we are drawn more and more into the complex, disturbing world inhabited by Dr. White.

One police officer needs to find the truth. She continues to question Dr. White after all the others have given up, and gradually, she pieces together most of the truth. While it gives closure to the reader and the police officer. It's too late to help Dr. White. Her world is dissolving toward the end.

I enjoyed this book although it was an eerie sensation to be so much in the head of someone with a distorted vision reality. I thought the author did an excellent job describing the deteriorating world of an Alzheimer's patient.

Although the murder mystery kept me turning pages, the investigation by the police officers didn't ring true. Perhaps this was because it was being told through a distorted vision. Still, it was a necessary part of the novel. Without some real life clues to follow the novel would have become too convoluted in the bizarre world of Dr. White's deteriorating brain. Well worth the read.
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65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Something has happened." Jennifer White is writing in her journal, a record she's keeping ("It is my Bible of consciousness") because she is suffering from dementia, the intermediate stages of Alzheimer's Disease. Jennifer is 64. She has been a distinguished surgeon and she has two grown children, whom now she sometimes recognizes, sometimes doesn't, and with growing frequency confuses with her husband and mother, both long gone. "Termites [are] eating away at [her] emotions. . . . Robbing [her] of [the] chance to say goodbye." But now policemen want to question her. Her best friend, Amanda, has been found dead in her house down the block, and someone, someone with the surgical skill Jennifer used to possess, has amputated and disposed four fingers from Amanda's one hand. The detectives suspect that Jennifer either murdered her friend or was involved in the murder, but how can they penetrate the deep fog that now surrounds Jennifer's mind. And why would she have done such a horrific thing? Out of this situation, first time novelist LaPlante could have fashioned a potboiler, emphasizing the hyperbolic, but instead, and admirably, she has resisted the impulse to sensationalize and instead written a deeply moving account of an intelligent woman's descent into oblivion. It is also a mystery -and a good one--but most of all, it is a study of character under attack, and an excellent one.
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98 of 105 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Book for "Light Reading" July 4, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is depressing. Don't misunderstand - it's a fairly well written book, but the subject matter is dark. Very dark. This is a painful book dealing with a terrifying subject, and is not a light-hearted "who-dun-it".

In this book, a former surgeon is suspected of killing her on again-off again friend. However, since she is an Alzheimer's patient with no recollection of who her family and friends actually are, she can provide little help to the police as they search for clues. The book is narrated from the main character's (the Alzheimer's patient's) point of view, and therefore is disturbing in its stark portrayal of the confusion, pain and loss of dignity that surrounds the progression of this horribly debilitating disease. I found it heart-rending.

All of that said, while I respected the author's insight into the family disruption and emotional pain that accompanies dementia, I found the ending to be anti-climatic and not worthy of the skill she demonstrates throughout the rest of the book. Others may not agree.

I recommend the book, but do so with a caveat: read it as more than a murder mystery if you want your money's worth. The true power of this book lies not in the plot, but in the gripping portrayal of an illness that affects more than 27 million people world wide.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into the Mind of a Woman with Dementia June 16, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Dr. Jennifer White has early onset Alzheimer's disease at 64 years old. Once an esteemed orthopedic surgeon specializing in surgery of the hands, she is now unable to remember things from minute to minute, unable to recognize her son Mark or her daughter Fiona most of the time. Her mind goes in and out from fog to lucidity but the lucidity, for the most part, are memories of her early life. In Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante, the reader gets deeply into the mind of a woman with dementia. It is very realistic and fascinating. Having a mother with dementia and being a clinical social worker myself, I can say without reservation that Alice LaPlante really gets it.

The novel is primarily about Jennifer's life, before and after the onset of her dementia. We go backwards with her as she remembers her marriage, her family of origin, her childbirths and her education. Complicating matters is the fact that Amanda, her best friend, has been murdered and four digits of Amanda's hand have been removed. Jennifer has gone from being a `person of interest' to the police to becoming a primary suspect. The question remains, however, whether she did it and why would she do such a thing. The digits were removed in a professional manner, in the way an orthopedist might do such a thing.

We go back with Jennifer to her relationship with Amanda. Both are very strong women. Amanda is one tough cookie, honest to the point of disregarding feelings and willing to betray a friend's confidence if she does not agree with their ethics. At one point Jennifer calls Amanda both "the inflictor and healer of my pain. Both." Jennifer has narcissistic tendencies, sees herself as better than others, more deserving. "People who take this to an extreme are called sociopaths, Amanda tells me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably believable!!
This is quite a riveting and thought-provoking story! I'll be thinking long and hard about this one for quite awhile!
Published 3 days ago by June K
3.0 out of 5 stars For an older person reading this book, it was ...
For an older person reading this book, it was very depressing----sad!
Published 4 days ago by Marie Lawson
5.0 out of 5 stars wow!
This book sucks you in from the get go. A tailspin of living the confused and sad life that Alzheimer's invokes. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Reid
4.0 out of 5 stars Turn of Mind is a real page turner!
The book is a fascinating look at dementia and also the intrigue of family dynamics. Especially the dynamics of a dysfunctional family. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Gemini
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This was a great book it kept me interested all the way to the end.It really showed how someone goes through Alzheimer's disease.And how they do have some lucid moments .
.
Published 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, will bring up a lot of emotions...
A friend recommended that I read this book because she really liked it. Although it's a well written book, I had difficulty reading in, but
mainly because I found it... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Bea
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual story told very well
Told from the point of view of a brilliant orthopedic surgeon who is suffering from dementia, "Turn of Mind" is a strikingly unusual story. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Michael Glaviano
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique. A fascinating mystery revealed through the fragmented memories...
Unique. A fascinating mystery revealed through the fragmented memories of an elderly doctor with Alzheimer's.
Published 7 days ago by Janet Thornburg
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book
Such a good book. The author takes you into a person's mind who has dementia. Very interesting and scary to think this happens to people. I highly recommend this book.
Published 8 days ago by Pam Arneth
5.0 out of 5 stars terrifying and wonderful
This book is unlike anything I have ever read. The insight into someone slowing loosing their mind is terrifying and insightful. Read more
Published 9 days ago by jennifer
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