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Monday, December 10, 2012

Turn of Mind

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "Alice LaPlante's Turn of Mind is a spellbinding novel about the disintegration of a strong woman's mind and the unhinging of her family. Dr. Jennifer White, recently widowed and a newly retired orthopedic surgeon, is entering the beginning stages of dementia--where the impossibility of recognizing reality can be both a blessing and a curse. As the story opens, Jennifer's life-long friend and neighbor, Amanda, has been killed, and four fingers surgically removed. Dr. White is the prime suspect in the murder and she herself doesn't know if she did it or not. Narrated in her voice, fractured and eloquent, a picture emerges of the surprisingly intimate, complex alliance between this pair--two proud, forceful women who were at times each other's most formidable adversaries. The women's thirty-year friendship deeply entangled their families, and as the narrative unfolds we see that things were not always as the seemed. Jennifer's deceased husband, James, is clearly not the scion he was thought to be. Her two grown children--Mark, a lawyer, and Fiona, a professor, who now have power over their mother's medical and financial decisions respectively--have agendas of their own. And Magdalena, her brusque live-in caretaker, has a past she hides. As the investigation intensifies, a chilling question persists: is Dr. Jennifer White's shattered memory preventing her from revealing the truth or helping to hide it?"

Although some people may find this book a little slow, I found it intriguing and couldn't put it down. My grandpa had dementia, and I found this book to be true-to-life from a loved one's viewpoint. It brought back many memories of times I spent with my grandpa towards the end of his life. I loved Ms. LaPlante's writing style. It was a little difficult to understand at points, but that was because it was written from Jennifer's point of view. The story does not progress chronologically. It progresses as you see flashes of Jennifer's memory, and then you put the events together. People also confess things to Jennifer, because they don't think she will remember, and you are able to piece things together that way as well. The question of "Did she really do it?" nagged at me constantly and bothered me when I wasn't reading. Ms. LaPlante did a very good job crafting this story.

I will definitely treat people with dementia a little differently because of this book. It would be so hard to see only strangers where others see family and life-long friends. This is not a happy book. It is a bit of a downer, but worth the read. There is a bit of language, and a couple of "f" words at the very end of the book. There is a murder scene along with affairs, drug dealing, and fraud, among other things. I didn't love the ending, because I was really disappointed in someone, but it worked with the storyline. This is not a book I'll read again, but I'm glad I read it.

Rating: PG-13+ (Murder, language, affairs, drug dealing, fraud)

Recommendation: 18 years and up

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