Saturday, April 16, 2011

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

What a disturbing novel!  It is so well written, I sometimes felt part of it.  Because of the book's plot, that was very disturbing.
Dr. Jennifer White is an accomplished surgeon, specializing in hands.  But she is experiencing the early symptoms of Alzheimer's so "retires" herself.  And then her friend turns up dead, murdered and with several fingers surgically removed.  The police suspect Jennifer but do not have conclusive evidence.
Through a mixture of current experiences, journal entries, fleeting memories and dreams, we live along with Jennifer.  We experience her lapses of being in the present.  We relive the memories that haunt her.  All along we wonder if she really did commit the murder.
I was much more involved in this book than in Still Alice (also about Alzheimer's).  LaPlante has accomplished something with this novel - bringing the reader into the disturbing world of one losing one's hold on life. 
And the ending, to know the truth, but to not remember, so, no, not really knowing the truth.
The writing is superb.  At one point Jennifer says, "I'm inclined to pretend I'm normal today."  (17)  At another point her troubled son says to his mother (who has kept her maiden name), “Why didn't you give me your name, Mom? The shoes would have been just as large but of a different shape altogether.” (20)
This is a must read novel.

This book does not release until July 5, 2011.
Alice LaPlante teaches creative writing at San Francisco State University and Stanford University.  This is her first novel.

I received an advanced reading egalley of this book from Atlantic Monthly Press for the purpose of this review.

1 comment:

Sverige said...

It was a fascinating look into the deteriorating mind of a very intelligent woman. It was as if Alice LaPlante was going through this herself. But, it wasn't a tear-jerker of a book.