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Turn of Mind

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  13,577 ratings  ·  2,220 reviews
A stunning first novel, both literary and thriller, about a retired surgeon with dementia who clings to bits of reality through anger, frustration, shame and unspeakable loss.

Turn of Mind, a literary page-turner about a retired orthopedic surgeon suffering from dementia and accused of killing her best friend, was a New York Times hardcover bestseller and named a Best Book
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 5th 2011 by Bond Street Books
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3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,577 ratings  ·  2,220 reviews

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Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 10, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Patricia Williams
Another really good book. Could not put it down. I was not sure about the book at the beginning. The writing style is very different and it's told through the voice of the patient with dementia and through her notebooks she keeps to help herself remember things. But I got used to it and read this book in 3 days, very quickly for me. It was a really good story with a mystery. I can't begin to understand how this author got so into the head of someone with dementia. I have dealt with this in my li ...more
Gale Martin
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 13, 2011 rated it liked it
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
jv poore
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Turn of Mind was marked as a Staff Pick at @fountainbkstore, so I thoroughly expected to adore this novel. I was not disappointed.

As a mystery, this book has a unique twist. Not only is the reader puzzling out "who dunnit", but the main suspect also wonders whether or not she is guilty of a particularly heinous crime. The suspect, Dr. Jennifer White is suffering from dementia. The entire story is told from her muddled perspectives.

The narration is heart-wrenching, particularly for the reader tha
Sep 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, fiction
Author Alice LaPlante enters the mind of alzheimer sufferer, Dr Jennifer White, and takes us on a terrifying journey.

We follow Jennifer as her mind disintegrates, and it is frightening that she retains her intelligence, but that it is her memory that goes. "I listen carefully, I think this is important, but the words disappear into the ether the moment they are spoken." For me the most horrific aspect is that in lucid moments she is aware of what is happening to her, but has no control over her
Julie Christine
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Julie Christine 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
Nov 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Mary Chrapliwy
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-books
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
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A uniquely entertaining murder mystery. LaPlante's portrayal of the prime suspect's escalating dementia is gripping, unnerving, and utterly brilliant.--Lisa Genova
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wip-comps
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
Diane S ☔
Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One can quickly run out of adjectives describing this novel but
I will use chilling and heartbreaking. The reader follows Dr. Jennifer White, age 64, former orthopedic surgeon, as she sinks in the grip of dementia. This story is brilliantly related as she lapses in and out of reality, remembers farther and farther back, secrets of the past are revealed as the filters in her mind disintegrate and her mood changes become more pronounced. She is also being investigated for the murder of her best fr
Oct 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Η Τζένιφερ είναι μια πολύ επιτυχημένη χειρούργος, η οποία πάσχει από Αλτσχάιμερ. Αναπολεί λοιπόν τον τρόπο ζωής της, τη σχέση της με τα παιδία της, τον πεθαμένο συζυγό της και τη σχέση της με την καλύτερη της φίλη, την Αμάντα, η οποία βρίσκεται δολοφονημένη. Η αστυνομία, υποψιάζεται την Τζένιφερ, λόγω του ακρωτηριασμού που υπέστη το σώμα. Το μυαλό της Τζένιφερ, της παίζει παράξενα παιχνίδια και σταδιακά, έχουμε τον εγκλεισμό της Τζενιφερ σε ειδικό κέντρο. Θα έλεγα ότι είναι ιδιαιτέρως ψυχοφθόρα ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: no one, save ur time
3/5 stars

The more thrillers I read the more similar they are to me. The first half of this book was a solid 5/5 stars I read through that first 45% so fast. A older adult has dementia and is accused of killing her best friend? Like what the fuck that sounds like a good book. Well it's not. The second half was so damn boring I literally skimmed through it and nothing relevant happened. The third part it started to pick up and it was getting good. But damn what really happened was such a fucking l
May 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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,
I ended up actually not finishing this one because it just didn't really appeal. I read the first 50 pages which introduced me to the main character, a surgeon with Alzheimers, and followed her day to day life after the death f a best friend. Having Alzheimers was clearly a large issue for the main character because not only can she often not remember the little things, she frequently forgets her friend is dead and has to relive the sadness of discovering it. When it turns out that three of the ...more
Jul 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, 2011
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
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, psychology
Do you ever read a book that makes you feel sad? Turn of Mind is about Dr. Jennifer White, a 64 year old orthopedic surgeon who specialized in hand surgery and she now has Alzheimer's. It is oddly written so that sometimes it is difficult to tell whether she is having a thought, a memory or actually speaking to another person. It is told in three parts, living in her own home, living in a nursing home, and later with her dementia more escalating towards the end of her life.

The book is classifie
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
S helemaal op het einde ineens...
This book that sways between the genre of suspense, family dysfunction, and memory loss is an interesting one. I liked it alright, but didn't love it. Jennifer White was a surgeon specializing in hands, and now she strives to find herself through her dementia and Alzheimer's disease. This book relies heavily on the drive of an unreliable narrator- which is not my favorite way to approach a story.

Throughout the course of the story we are trying to piece together the pieces of a murder, a slouchy
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
Dec 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
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Gwinnett County P...: Turn of Mind 1 13 Jun 15, 2014 12:30PM  
  • Red on Red
  • Northwest Corner
  • The Call
  • Wrong Man Running
  • The Most Dangerous Thing
  • Long Gone
  • The Coffins of Little Hope
  • The Twisted Thread
  • The Reservoir
  • The Submission
  • The Storm at the Door
  • Close Your Eyes
  • The Winters in Bloom
  • The Year We Left Home
  • Emily, Alone (Emily Maxwell, #2)
  • Bent Road
  • West of Here
  • The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady
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
“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.”
“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.” 15 likes
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