Review: Turn of Mind


What would happen to you if you were accused of murder and did not remember committing it? What if the reason you might be guilty is beyond your control?

Many adults, mainly seniors are plagued with a deadly disease that has no cure. Dementia/Alzheimer’s eats away at your brain, slowly at first eating away at your good brain cells leaving bad ones in their place causing you to lose your memory, thought processes and worse. Remembering things for a short while, at times off in world of your own. Are you to blame? One orthopedic surgeon has signs all over her kitchen reminding her of her name, which she can still read, her family and where she lives.

TURN OF MIND by Alice LaPlanteBut, did she kill her friend? Dr. Jennifer White’s best friend is murdered. Her name is Amanda. Jennifer is accused of having murdered her, but did she? Finding the body and seeing four of the victims fingers have been expertly and surgically removed, points the police in her direction. Hearing the voice of the accused brings the story into focus and what you learn and the vivid descriptions the author creates will weigh in the reader’s mind and give you much pause for serious thought.

As you read the character’s own words and you close your eyes and listening carefully you hear Jennifer’s words, visualize her face and can truly understand her fears and frustrations as she goes in and out of what we call our own realities and into a world filled with haze, fog and clouds not knowing when her brain would become depleted of its good cells and filled with those that cause her to be devoid of any thoughts at all. Remembering her life with her husband James, being questioned by the police about her friend’s murder allows the reader to get to understand and know her as a person, realize that she is still quite with us and hope that by some miracle the doctors are wrong.

But, did this surgeon kill her friend as she lets you in on some of her memories about the last few times they were together and their past, you being to wonder.  One son and daughter who the reader wonders: What are their real motives? Why do they want to put her in a home or assisted living? What about Magdalena her caregiver? Is she really safe? You mind is something you can control except when you can’t. Memories that fade in an out and a story told by the character as she shares her inner most thoughts that she records in her notebook.

Her thoughts play out loud and clear and are heard by the reader told in the main character’s own voice. As she recounts the events of each day and is reminded of her friends’ death the author injects small pieces of Jennifer’s personal thoughts written in italics. Someone with dementia night have poor short-term memory but events from their past can be present and remembered. My mom had Alzheimer’s for eight years and she would have long conversations with me, my sister and brother about things we did when we were younger and yet at times not remember what she ate for lunch.

I watched this disease eat away at her thoughts, ability to read and discern words on paper, writer her name or add simple numbers. Jennifer’s caregiver tries to refresh her memory by showing her photos of events that happened in the past, recollections they each recorded in her daily log, or remembrances they often talk about. At times she looks into space, wonders who people are and then glimpses return. Thinking out loud in her own mind, not expressing herself verbally you experience her frustration, understand the anger within her and of course of fears. Conflicts arise, her children create power struggles, and doubts about what will happen to her and he mind wanders off on tangents. Recapturing her past and present by writing in her daily log or notebook was a great tool to help her remember, reflect and allow the reader to enter and understand her world.

Dealing with money issues can be difficult. Hoping her children would care for her when things got really tough. As the story continues and full investigation is underway into Amanda’s death. The police visit her home numerous times hoping to find the answers they think they already have or know. Then, things change for Jennifer and her children decide to put her in assisted living and it is from that point on the life takes a downward spiral, things about her past and her daughter Fiona come out and family secrets revealed. Amanda was a force to be reckoned with. Fiona’s godmother and supposed protector she knew a secret concerning James and Jennifer, that no one wanted revealed.

Forgetting to take her medications, hiding the pills, verbally abusive, violent are all familiar signs of dementia. Does it get better? No? As the past is revealed, old friends visit, events come to light that will surprise the reader, enlighten and hopefully help you understand what the horrors of this disease does to someone’s mind, author Alice LaPlante’s novel Turn of Mind is a must read for everyone. No one can cure this illness. I know that it is a death sentence that plays itself out when it is ready.

One family whose lives were changes when one member no longer can handle hers. One family whose secrets were buried until one woman threatened their every existence and being. One woman who would do anything to protect her family and keep the secrets that was buried along with her husband. When the police make their last visit what will they learn? Who killed Amanda? What was the real motive and why? Just what fate beholds Jennifer? What is her final destination? Periods of lucidity, periods of total haze and fog, one woman who can answer these questions and much more? Will she remember? Will I tell you? This reviewer never gives away an ending filled with twists, surprises and a glimpse of the future.

To a person with Alzheimer’s family objects can often trigger good memories. What would happen if someone robbed you of one? Reading about the assisted living and visiting many homes, I realize my decision to keep my mom at home, taking care of her for the past ten years and for at least five paying thousands a month along with my sister and brother to get her the best home care possible, was the right decision.

Jennifer White: Dr White is one woman I won’t forget. This is one story that needs to be told. This is one disease that needs to be stopped. We need to find the cause before searching for a cure.

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