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Turn of Mind Hardcover – July 5, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119773
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (276 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #688,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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...

About the Author

Alice LaPlante is an award-winning writer of both fiction and nonfiction. She teaches creative writing at Stanford University, where she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer. She also teaches in the MFA program at San Francisco State University. Her fiction has been widely published in Epoch, Southwestern Review, and other literary journals. LaPlante is the author of five books, including the Los Angeles Times best seller, Method and Madness: The Making of a Story. She lives with her family in Northern California. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

I finished the book in a day, I couldn't put it down.
Suzanne
I thought this was a terrific book mainly because I think it takes us right inside the mind of someone dealing with dementia or Alzheimers.
sb-lynn
Every character in the book is interesting and well developed.
Ms.Bane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

153 of 158 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Famolari VINE VOICE on 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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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful By David Keymer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 11, 2011
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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87 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Rabid Reader VINE VOICE on 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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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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