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Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
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's review
Mar 26, 2014

it was ok
bookshelves: crime, relationships, mental-health
Read in November, 2011

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 therapy dog.), bitter, resentful women, their husbands, children and lovers (who pretty much share those characteristics); and the intersection of those forces and persons. Funny that Alzheimer’s isn’t mentioned on the jacket or the blurbs, anywhere. But “… a crazy-smart narrator in a family drama that is a brilliant murder mystery,” is. The writing is “creative.” In other words, different - in it’s approach to story telling. I found it difficult but not too difficult. The “crazy-smart narrator” is a 64 year old retired surgeon who is losing her memory but “tells” the/her story via her notebook and memory, into (=the notebook) which are embedded conversations with characters, both past and present, represented by not quotation marks, but by italics and double spacing and sometimes first person “I” declarations, but no names. Tricky? Cute? Clever? Annoying. There are eight primary characters, none of whom I liked. They lie and steal and cheat, mostly; and argue while under the pretense of friendship and love; “That’s it, isn’t it. Too much happiness. You’re envious. A foul-weather friend.” (My quotes. Pg. 132) What they are is - wealthy and accomplished, but unhappy and deceitful and we don’t really know why other than that’s just the way they are.

So what do we learn? That losing your memory is not a good thing, not pleasant for anyone involved – family, friends, colleagues, caregivers. But we don’t learn why someone becomes afflicted with Alzheimer’s, nor any compassionate way to deal with it. Which is okay, maybe there are’t any - answers. My take-away was this: I am so glad my father, who is 91, is still clear in mind and able to live alone and has a good and caring female friend who is close by, and can drive him to appointments; and they go out to restaurants and watch movies and talk politics and read books.

I won’t be recommending they read this one.

Fall 2011
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09/24 marked as: read

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