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Book Review - Turn Of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Turn of Mind is a mystery. It's for the most part written in journal format. Interestingly it's a journal that sits in the house of a person with Alzheimer's disease.

Jennifer White was an orthopedic surgeon in Chicago. Once brilliant, Dr. White is now in the later stages of the disease and the journal is written in by family members and housekeepers to help her remember who she was and who she is. A fractured portrait emerges of a cold and strong minded woman who has had a full life that she remembers in bits and pieces. Amidst the pages is mention of a neighbor, Amanda, who has been murdered. Slowly things come together for the reader while Dr. White's disease progresses into confusion.

Yet she still has moments of lucidity, remembering the details of her profession, where she was considered one of the best and most respected hand surgeons in the country. Her deterioration is something she's at times very aware of, and it is this that makes the book so powerful.

The narrative often lapses into Jennifer's past memories of both her parents and her children. This adds authenticity to her mental condition but also made me impatient for what seemed to be more important details. As Jennifer is interviewed by police officers and pulled into interaction with her grown son and daughter, we can begin to understand the horror of this disease, especially regarding how hard it is to trust people who may be trying to manipulate the sufferer for their own purposes.

I'd put this near the top of my list for books enjoyed in 2019. It brings to mind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, narrated by an Aspberger's spectrum person. Turn of Mind is a hard book to read, but it's even harder to put down once you get into it.