Monday, August 5, 2013

Turn of Mind

Alice LaPlante's Turn of Mind tells the story of a once successful orthopedic surgeon who has entered the early stages of dementia.

The strength of this novel lies in LaPlante's staccato sentences and her abrupt changes in chronology; presenting only the viewpoint of the main character helps this approach give the novel a realistic feel.

Dr. Jennifer White, widowed and living with a full time caretaker, vacillates between the memory of the present and that of the past. Thoughtfully, someone encourages her to journal when she has “good” days, and then she can go back and read about herself, what she does, what she did, and who she is. These journal entries help lay the foundation of Jennifer's past.

LaPlante gives this story a much needed suspense by opening the narrative with the news that Jennifer's best friend of over thirty years and near neighbor Amanda has been murdered and Jennifer among the suspects because four of Amanda's fingers had been surgically removed. If that wasn't enough to fuel suspicion for Jennifer, then the added details of her an Amanda's conflicted past will do it.

Added to Jennifer's woes are her two children with their own set of problems as one of them sees Jennifer's hefty estate as a way to fix his problems and the other's problems – not even money can correct.

Even though I finished the novel, I didn't find it necessarily compelling --- perhaps because none of the characters were particularly sympathetic, not even Jennifer, whom I should have managed to care a little about.... don't you think?

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