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Turn of Mind

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  9,781 ratings  ·  1,802 reviews
Is the perfect murder the one you can't forget or the one you can't remember?

Dr. Jennifer White, a brilliant former surgeon in the early grips of Alzheimer's, is suspected of murdering her best friend, Amanda. Amanda's body was found brutally disfigured — with four of her fingers cut off in a precise, surgical manner. As the police pursue their investigation and Jennifer s
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 5th 2011 by Bond Street Books (first published 2011)
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The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThe Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David WroblewskiState of Wonder by Ann PatchettTurn of Mind by Alice LaPlanteMudbound by Hillary Jordan
Powell's Indiespensable
4th out of 50 books — 102 voters
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Best Books of 2011
309th out of 2,175 books — 7,004 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jul 22, 2011 Sue rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers of medical, psychological, suspense fiction
Recommended to Sue by: Cynthia Tooley
This novel chooses an unusual perspective for its narrator and, in my view, accomplishes it well. Dr Jennifer White is a retired orthopedic surgeon, self-retired, apparently, due to self-recognized signs of developing dementia. All the action of the novel is seen through her eyes, filtered through her changing brain. There is a central mystery, a murder, and all the various personalities and plot points are revealed but in completely non-traditional ways through the fragmented thoughts and words ...more
May 15, 2011 Carol rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: medical novels, fans of Lisa Genova
Recommended to Carol by: netgalley
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante may just be the talk of the summer. I read it in one sitting, it was that riveting. Sixty-four year old Dr. Jennifer White retires from her orthopedic practice when she discovers she has early on-set Alzheimer’s. When her old friend is found murdered with mutilated hands and missing fingers, Dr. White becomes a prime suspect. What could be a run of the mill murder mystery becomes a complicated story of a woman experiencing rapid dementia and declining memory. I can ...more
I was really surprised how much I wasn't blown away by this book. I thought I would be! It's a Powell's choice! It has an interesting premise (a woman with Alzheimer's is the main suspect in the murder of her best friend). The writing was interesting--consisting of some notes from the main character Jennifer's caretaker, children, and the murdered friend Amanda, but mainly from Jennifer's POV, skipping around in time, but also skipping around from good memory day to hardly memory at all. It soun ...more
Interesting premise, but ultimately over-hyped. Grim throughout, with no glimmer of anything. The twist was surprising, but overall, I was just glad to be done with this. I was quite interested in the "whodunit" part of the plot for the first half or so of the book, but the relentless deterioration of the main character made that seem unimportant by the time the murderer was revealed.

update Oct. 4, 2014: check out Elizabeth is Missing for a novel with a somewhat similar storyline executed in a m
Dark Disease

Murder is nothing compared with losing yourself which is what is gradually happening to top surgeon Jennifer White as Alzheimer’s drags her under. Her best friend of many years is murdered and she has to keep reliving it each time her son or daughter, her caretaker or detectives retell it. Then there are her lucid moments. She keeps a journal in order to jog her memory. Others write his or her version of the truth in it as well. The problem is their agendas differ. Her son has medica
I won this book from a GoodReads first read contest, and the subject intrigued as soon as I received it, I started to read it. The first thing that threw me off was the style of's a line or two, then a space, then another line or two. And anytime the person is thinking, the thoughts are written in italics...which seems easy to follow, but sometimes I found myself bored with having to switch voices so often and skip over spaces on the page. I suppose this is a small thing to ...more
Gale Martin
What an incredibly ambitious book. Very brave piece of fiction. Perhaps the craft evident in this book is of little interest to non writers, but what an incredible undertaking to tell a story from the POV of woman succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease. The story began in first person, moved to second person as the illness progressed, and finally to third person, to show that Dr. Jennifer White was no longer an integrated personality. Brilliant. Such a surprising but wholly believable ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I give the author due credit for realistic portrayal of what it's like to have dementia, and what it's like for those trying to care for a person with dementia. As for the story, the delivery is just too random and scattered. When I reached the end, I was left with that "HUH?" feeling that makes a novel unsatisfying.
Mary Chrapliwy
The story of a doctor suffering from Alzheimers told from her point of view. This book was completely heartbreaking.

As an RN, I've dealt with my fair share of patients with dementia (including Alzheimers type - there is more than one type of dementia). Many times I would look at a patient clearly trying to formulate what he or she wanted to say as well as those who clearly were trying to reach back into their minds for some memory that sits right on the edge of the mind, like a term that lays on
Sep 24, 2011 Julie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Julie by: The Seattle Times
Dr. Jennifer White is losing her mind. Literally. Her brain's cells and blood vessels are decaying, coating the vibrant organ of her consciousness with clumps of dying and dead tissue. This brilliant woman - an orthopedic surgeon, mother of two grown children, and a recent widow - is losing her mind to dementia.

I began Turn of Mind an hour before bedtime and finished it shortly after breakfast the next day. In between I slept, swam, showered, and ate my oatmeal, but all other moments were devot
Turn of Mind is classified as a “Literary Thriller.” I wouldn’t call it that; I call it a “First novel by a creative writing teacher,” which is a category I favor. There isn’t much to the plot (despite the blurbs), which is a murder mystery, and not much suspense as to who dunit or why. (see story map)

Turn of Mind is a story about Alzheimer disease, memory, and strong and powerful, professional (a doctor, professor, & detective), hateful (The protagonist, Dr, Jennifer White, even hates the t
Interesting little semi-mystery (it's less a whodunit, more a character study of the suspects and the victim). The twist here is that our titular character, Jennifer is a renowned hand surgeon recently forced into retirement due to early-onset Alzheimer's. We walk with Jennifer (I had a hard time with this name for some reason. Maybe because she's my mother's age and I tend to think of "Jennifer" as a name for my contemporaries, not hers. I feel the same way about one of those "I've fallen and I ...more
I loved this book. If you look at the cover, the head is obscured by what seems to be a fog and the fog is pearl like in tones. That is the perfect cover for this book.

Dr. Jennifer White, an orthopedic surgeon is experiencing early dementia. She “retired” early from her work and hired a caretaker, Magdalena to live with her and take care of her daily needs. Her husband, James, has already passed away and left her with her two adult children, Mark, age 29 and Fiona, age 24. The pearl like drape
All the reviews of this novel glowed. Customer reviews and Editorial ones. How interesting to attempt to portray the world through the mind of a brilliant woman with dementia. I am the caregiver of an Alzheimer's patient and I know how fragmented life can be for him, how his mind slips from one path to another, and then how sharp and lucid he can be. I could hardly wait to read this book.

Then, after about 50 pages, I could hardly wait for it to be done. Part of the problem was that nobody was li
I had such high hopes when I read the description of this book! And let me begin by saying that I actually couldn't stop reading it. However, it didn't really deliver what I had hoped.

First of all, you will be hard-pressed to find any likable characters in this story. Even the main character, Jennifer, who suffers from Alzheimer's , and whose point of view is the voice of the novel. Part of me wonders if Alice LaPlante did this intentionally in an effort to make readers believe that any of the c
Wow! Debut author Alice LaPlante takes an enormous creative risk by narrating her first book through the voice of a 64-year-old retired female surgeon who is in the throes of dementia, and her risk utterly pays off.

This is a pulse-quickening, heart-wrenching tale, seen through the eyes of Dr. Jennifer White, who on any given day, may be lucid and competent, sly and untrusting, unsure and frustrated, or even catatonic. I have never felt as if I were inside the mind of a person with Altzheimer’s,
Dr Jennifer White, a retired orthopedic surgeon specializing in hands, is horrified to learn that her best friend, Amanda, was killed and four fingers were surgically removed postmortem. She is questioned repeatedly by the Chicago police, and reacts with the same surprise and sorrow each time. Jennifer has Alzheimer's Disease and has no recollection of the event.

The reader is inside Jennifer's head for much of the book as the Alzheimer's Disease progresses. Jennifer has a complicated, difficult
Jennifer White may or may not have killed her best friend, Amanda O’Toole. If she didn’t, someone in Chicago wants to make it look like Jennifer did. Jennifer, you see is a sixty-four-year-old, newly retired orthopedic surgeon, and one hand of Amanda’s body was found with four of her fingers surgically removed by someone who definitely knew what he or she was doing.

So begins the plot of Alice LaPlante’s debut novel, Turn of Mind. I thought it was an excellent way to draw the reader into the book
Denise Hamilton
I got to meet Alice LaPlante cuz we were "in conversation" at a local library about her first novel, Turn of Mind, which just won the UK's Wellcome Trust Book Prize. (She was up against Phillip Roth, Ann Patchett & other luminaries.

It's a murder mystery in which the suspect has Alzheimer's and it works both as a literary novel and as crime fiction.

The writing is achingly beautiful, and extremely fragmented and fractured, as we are in the head of a 65-year-old doctor Jennifer White, who has d
Don't start this book unless you have a large chunk of time to devote to it, because you will probably get sucked into the story just like I did! This novel is part murder mystery, part psychological thriller, part literary fiction focusing on Dr. Jennifer White, a retired hand surgeon with early onset Alzheimer's disease. When her best friend is found murdered with her fingers surgically removed, White becomes a prime suspect -- but with her worsening dementia, she can't recall anything about t ...more

There. certain books, given the status of my life, that I should not read - and I knew this was one from the start. A crime novel about an osteopathic surgeon with early-onset Alzheimers who may have murdered her best friend and surgically removed four fingers from the corpse is not the best book for a reader who almost daily visits her mother in an Alzheimers facility. But after I tried to convince a shopper at my - then - local Borders that I knew the title of the book he was looking for even
Hard to rate and review this one. Certainly getting rave reviews for being a “literate” mystery. Had its good and bad, so I’d give it about 3.5
Very bravely makes the main character, suffering from Alzheimer’s, the narrator. But given the limitations, has to resort to various gimmicky things to add to the narrative, e.g., the Notebook she keeps and others write in. Doesn’t ring true to me, as of course the police would have confiscated it, and I don’t think the children would have written things
Great concept, but I have mixed feelings about the execution.

Dr. Jennifer White, the protagonist of this book, is a 65-year-old woman suffering early onset Alzheimer's who may or may not have murdered her best friend. Certainly a great deal of evidence points in her direction, and Jennifer's failing memory makes it impossible for her to confirm or deny her involvement in the murder. I expected two things from the book: a new and interesting twist on an unreliable narrator, and an exploration of
Dr. Jennifer White's best friend and neighbor has been murdered, her fingers surgically removed. Jennifer has no idea if she did it; in fact from day to day (hour to hour) she doesn't always remember that Amanda is dead, or much else for that matter, as she plunges into dementia. The story is told through occasional lucid memories and muddled fear of what's happening to her mind, but most of the information comes through a notebook that the 64-year-old Jennifer, her caregiver, and visitors write ...more
WOW!!! Where to begin...If this was just a book about loosing someone you love to dementia, I probably would have given it 4 stars. But there are so many layers to this book that is going to make it unforgetable(pardon the pun) I came away from this book with a greater respect for the people who have not lost their ability to remember those they love. Such a horrible disease for the person whose mind is taken away but in my opinion a worse disease for the ones left behind having to retell events ...more
This is a tough book to review. It was a tough book to read. The subject is depressing, hopeless.However, the mystery and the relationships were fascinating and kept the pages turning. I read this in two days.
Jennifer White is a retired orthopedic surgeon with early onset Alzheimer's dementia. Being a physician, she caught it and was diagnosed fairly early.This allowed her to retire with dignity and before it was widely known why she left at the top of her game.
Jennifer tells her own story as
I received an advance copy of this book.

Ten years ago, I was intrigued by a movie called "Memento" about a man with only short-term memory who was trying to reconstruct what happened to his murdered wife. As he discovered "facts," he would tattoo them on his body so he would always have the truth at hand. As the movie progresses, you see how truly objective truth can be and how crippling memory loss really is. Alice LaPlante covers similar territory in TURN OF MIND.

Retired orthopedic (and hand
The only reason I picked this book up was because it was the first of this year's Stanford Book Salon's selections. I have a deep, unholy fear of developing Alzheimer's and as a result, avoid anything that has the slightest hint of the disease. Reading this book, it is unavoidable. Alzheimer's enters your life, your mind, your thoughts, and your world. But it's only fair. It has done the same to the narrator of the story, Jennifer White, a recently widowed, gifted and brilliant orthopedic surgeo ...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
I’m not sure where to begin in describing this novel – part mystery, part family saga, chock full of family tension – except to say that I was riveted from the very first sentence.

LaPlante takes us into the rapidly deteriorating mind of a gifted orthopedic hand surgeon afflicted with Alzheimer’s. With the same precision and skill required of a surgeon, LaPlante guides readers into the darkness of the disease, its confusion, and its humiliation with such unflinching honesty that, at times, it is
I liked it and I didn't. In the same way I didn't enjoy "snow Flower & the Secret Fan" because the main characters were so unlikeable, I didn't enjoy this book. But it was a fascinating and well-imagined look at Alzheimer's and those touched by the disease.

Dr Jennifer White is a cold woman, eminently practical, but not manipulative. She is friends with blunt, sneaky and dare I say - evil Amanda. But why? Is it because they both lack warmth? Is it a game for them? And when Amanda is found de
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Gwinnett County P...: Turn of Mind 1 7 Jun 15, 2014 12:30PM  
Books and More!: Book Club meeting 15 27 May 15, 2012 03:09PM  
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Alice LaPlante is an award-winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction. 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. Alice is the author of five books, including ...more
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“the secret of happy marriage: not honesty, not forgiveness, but acceptance that is a kind of respect for the other's right to make mistakes.” 11 likes
“People think it's just forgetting your keys, she says. Or the words for things. But there are the personality changes. The mood swings. The
hostility and even violence. Even from the gentlest person in the world. You lose the person you love. And you are left with the shell... And you are expected to go on loving them even when they are no longer there. You are supposed to be loyal. It’s not
that other people expect it. It’s that you expect it of yourself. And you long for it to be over soon.”
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