Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Turn of Mind - Alice LaPlante

Awhile back, I read a fiction book called Still Alice about a woman with early onset Alzheimer's disease.  I highly recommend the novel, though it is a frightening reality, I found the book immensely intriguing in its portrayal of this degenerative disease.  Then the Stanford Book Club picked this novel - Turn of Mind - a murder mystery also feautring a main character with Alzheimer's.  With recent media attention on the possible connection between Alzheimer's and diabetes, this condition has been much on my mind and with that background, I picked up this thriller.  Written in the first-person, this is the story of former hand surgeon, Dr. Jennifer White, has a caretaker and is watched over by her daughter and delinquent son.  She suffers from Alzheimer's and when he best friend is found murdered - with several fingers severed from her hand - Jennifer becomes a prime suspect.  The book is written in fragmented sections - there are present day interactions such as the repeated interogations by the police in which Jennifer is painfully reminded at each visit that her best friend has been murdered.  And there are fragments of memories from Jennifer's past - descrbing her marriage, her friendship, her practice, and the raising of her children.  Like Still Alice, I found this a very painful and difficult read, while at the same time fascinated by the author's ability to get into the mind of someone with this disease (as realistic as we can ever know that the portrayal is).  In terms of a murder mystery, the plot unfolds nicely with the reader constantly wondering if Jennifer committed the crime, and if she did, whehther she actually remembers doing so.  The end unfolded a bit strangely, and while I want to avoid any spoilers, I'm not sure I was entrely satisfied with it.  But, I loved the writing in this book and the interactions between the characters - a little frustrating at times, but certainly nothing compared to the frustration of having this disease, or caring for a loved one suffering from it.

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