Turn of Mind depicts the mind of 64-year-old Dr. Jennifer White, who worked as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand surgery until she received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Dr. White’s close friend and neighbor, Amanda, is found murdered in her home and missing four of her fingers, which were removed with surgical precision. Dr. White is, of course, the prime suspect in the murder.
The novel is written from Dr. White’s point of view and chronicles her rapid memory deterioration over just a few months. We learn about her family and her life through her disjointed, fuzzy remembrances. As the book goes on, the narration becomes more and more incoherent. The beginning of the story is fairly easy to follow, but by the end, Dr. White’s mind is taking you all over the place, from fantasy to truth via brief moments of clarity.
Turn of Mind was a bit depressing, and I thought the ending was fairly predictable. LaPlante successfully portrays a mind suffering from Alzheimer’s. While you feel for Dr. White, through her confusion and her children’s reactions to her memory loss, you do not get the sense that she and her friends were especially likable people even in their prime. The primary characters are all flawed, and unfortunately, they are not flawed in an endearing manner.
Overall, I felt torn by my feelings toward the book. The Alzheimer’s depicted through the narrative brings to the forefront how terrible it must be to suffer this disease, either in yourself or a loved one. When I consider the fairly unlikable characters, I feel somewhat indifferent to the story as a whole. The murder and the why behind the murder are insignificant to the depiction of a mind suffering Alzheimer’s.