Friday, November 18, 2011

Turn of Mind, by Alice LaPlante

Dr. Jennifer White is a renowned orthopedic surgeon, a specialist in delicate hand surgery. She has been forced into retirement because she has Alzheimer's. As the book opens, she is also the prime suspect in the murder of her neighbor and best friend Amanda, who was found dead from a blow to the head, with the fingers on one hand neatly amputated.

The book is told from Jennifer's perspective, and LaPlante does a wonderful job of conveying what might be happening in the mind of someone with advanced Alzheimer's. Sometimes she recognizes her children, Mark and Fiona, sometimes she doesn't. She has to be told over and over that Amanda is dead. She often remembers events from her past--sometimes believing them to have only recently happened. These recollections make clear that her relationship with Amanda was not complicated, at least in part by the fact that Amanda knew too much about Jennifer's marriage to James, long since dead.

The idea of a mystery in which a person with Alzheimer's is either the perpetrator or a key witness is an intriguing one. Unfortunately, I didn't find this particular mystery--who killed Amanda and why--very interesting. Nonetheless, the look into Jennifer's mind makes the book well worth reading whether the mystery works or not.

Favorite passages:
To love and to grieve and to be unable to confide that grief. It is a lonely place to reside.

Even now, one is leaning over my chair, hand outstretched, trying to pat me on the head. Pet me. No. Stop. I am not a wild thing to be soothed by touch. I will not be soothed.

The room is full of faces I recognize, and if I don't love them, at least I know their names, and that is more than enough. perhaps this is my revelation? Perhaps this is heaven? To wander among a multitude and have a name for each.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written and heartbreaking, this is by no means for everyone. I loved every page of it. If you enjoy books like House of Leaves or The Shining, you should at least et the sample of this.