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Turn of Mind Hardcover – July 5, 2011
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An NPR, Vogue, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Globe and Mail Summer Reading Pick
To call Turn of Mind a thrilleror a chronicle of illness, or a saga of friendship for that matterwould 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 2010the 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 footingthe 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 frienshipas 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 yearsI 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 nextalmost miraculouslyshe 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 whoeven in the midst of losing her mindis 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 noveland 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 novelit’s so carefully written and satisfying...
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was facsinated by the author's insite into the mysterious mind and threads of disjointed thoughts of the main character. I loved the compassion of the detective.Published 4 days ago by mary1daful
I actually read this book a few years ago, and it has stayed with me. Watching my mother struggle through this insidious disease and eventually die from it was the hardest thing... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Book Hoarder 451
A really dark, honest, and finally deeply sad novel. Though billed as a mystery, it is more of a character study of a family and close friend and their interrelationships, all... Read morePublished 2 months ago by S. Yates
Jennifer White's best friend Amanda has been murdered. Her disfigured body had four fingers neatly severed from her right hand. Read morePublished 3 months ago by My 2 Cents
The writing was worthy of five stars, but this book was difficult for me to get through. I have a sister with dementia, and the viewpoint of the main character, a female surgeon... Read morePublished 8 months ago by R. Cook
I'm glad I read this since my mom has Alzheimer's disease and this book made me realize things from her point of view. Read morePublished 9 months ago by #1 Amazon Fan!
What a beautifully written story life in as small town where people have nothing else to do but gossip Two people doing what they feel is right for them even though they're... Read morePublished 9 months ago by barbara steinberg