Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Review - Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Title: Turn of Mind 
Author: Alice LaPlante
Year: 2011
Page: 304
Genre: Fiction

FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
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 searches her own mind for fractured clues to Amanda's death, a portrait emerges of a complex relationship between two uncompromising, unsentimental women, lifelong friends who were at times each other's most formidable adversaries.

First Sentence:
Something has happened.

My Thoughts:
  • I had high hopes for this book (mistake #1) as I thought it'd be like Still Alice by Lisa Genova since the protagonist had Alzheimer's. I also thought this would be a thriller / suspense since someone was murdered (mistake #2). This is more of a literary fiction than thriller / suspense / murder / mystery - the genre I typically love - it is more of a story about what it would be like if you or someone you know have Alzheimer's, and there happened to have a death, rather than a who dunnit. Keep that in mind or you would be disappointed.
  • I read this book about a month after I read Before I Go To Bed (see my review here) - and there were some cross over between those books, but mostly because both dealt with memory loss. However I did like Before I Go to Bed better because there were more action (despite repetitious). The twist of this book was almost anti-climatic - when the big twist was revealed, I didn't have an a-ha moment, as it was already expected that a twist would be coming along.
  • I also didn't care for characters - unlike in Still Alice, where I really was rooting for Alice and hoped a miracle would happen (even though that would be totally unrealistic, and would be too cheesy if it did happen). But in this book, I really didn't really care. Partly I think is because of the writing - there were no quotation marks used for dialog. The whole book was very fragmented - I know this format was used to show what went through the Alzheimer's patient's mind, but it was very stream-of-consciousness-like, and I just do not like this style.
  • The story was told from Dr Jennifer White's perspective, so the readers got a sense of what it would feel like if you have Alzheimer's. However you didn't really get a sense of the other characters since Dr White was deteriorating and didn't remember much, like who Mark and Fiona, Jim, Amanda and Pete, Magdalena or Detective Luton were. Dr White and Amanda were supposed to be best friends but I didn't understand their friendship and what lead them to become best buddies. I also didn't really explain why Mark and Fiona turned out the way they did.
  • Due to the protagonist's disease, the story line was jumping all over the place from past to present without any indication - again, it was to show the impact of this disease, but at times it was just confusing for the readers. 
  • Despite not liking the characters or the plot much, it did make me feel scared about having dementia - whether it was myself or loved ones having it. It is a very cruel and scary disease, especially for the family.  I liked the premise of this book, but I just didn't like its execution or writing style. I think this book may have been beneficial to be told from more than 1 perspective, so that the other characters would get a chance to develop. As of now, due to the way the story is told, the readers feel distanced from all the characters, especially when Dr While was not very likeable. So I was not emotionally pulled in. It was just like reading someone else's story, rather than a friend's story.
  • Title fits the story, and I quite like the cover. If I remember right, it was on metallic paper so I loved the sheen

      He refers to what we do as the Two Circular Steps. Step One is admitting you have a problem. Step two is forgetting you have the problem... I would even add a third step: Step Three is remember that you forget. Step Three is the hardest of all. (p10)

      What is worst than betrayal? Losing your sight. Losing the use of your arms. Just about any physical affliction or deformity. (p77)

      Overall Rating:  

      2 Stars. Interesting premise, but execution fell short. 

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      1. Well done for actually reading it! I also liked the premise but only read two chapters before giving up - I just didn't like the format at all.

      2. Oh I hate it when I don't like the main characters! Even if it means they are well written!

      3. Still Alice is an all time favourite and Before I Go to Sleep was ok.

        I wanted to read this one but it doesn't sound like the execution worked.

        Thanks for your opinion.

      4. @Cat - I wish I had given up... sometimes need to listen to my gut feeling more!

        @rhapsodyinbooks - it makes a difference to me if I care about the characters, even if they are the baddies! Otherwise I have no emotional investment...

        @Marce - If you can get to read a free chapter or two, see if you like it. The whole book is written in that format... I am just not into the whole stream-of-consciousness style...