Turn of Mind
By Alice LaPlante
Atlantic Monthly Press July 2011
Dr. Jennifer White is a renowned orthopedic surgeon. She is a recent widow and the mother of two children who are now adults. She is also suffering from dementia and sometimes she remembers none of these things. Jennifer’s neighbor and best friend Amanda had been murdered and four of her fingers have been surgically removed. The police suspect Jennifer. She cannot even remember ever meeting her friend on some days; much less remember whether she was the perpetrator of this brutal crime. As her mind deteriorates and her children fight over her course of care, Jennifer tries to remember exactly what happened on the night Amanda was killed.
As soon as I heard the premise of this book, I added it to my to-be-read list. I find this concept a fascinating one and I think Ms. LaPlante did an excellent job of presenting a mind in decline. On some days, Jennifer is perfectly lucid. As the book progresses, there are days she cannot remember who she is or how to do basic tasks. The presentation of this horrible disease is really heartbreaking.
That being said, it’s hard to really connect with the character of Jennifer. She can barely remember who she is, which makes it difficult for the reader to figure it out. I was very interested in some of the other characters, namely Amanda and the detective who investigates her murder. We do not really get to know either character though, because one is dead and the other Jennifer hardly remembers from visit to visit.
The first hundred pages were hard to get into, but once I really committed to it, the book was a quick read. The premise is fascinating and the idea of a woman really having no idea whether or not she had murdered her best friend was compelling. Unfortunately, once the actual details of the murder are discovered, I was left feeling let down. The circumstances surrounding the crime just did not ring true.
It seems as if I have written a lot of negative things, but this was not a terrible book. I found the mystery plot line to be flawed, but the insight into literally losing your mind is stunning and tragic.