“Top 5 Signs You Have Alzheimer’s: 5 – You ask your grandson to take you to the junior prom 4 – Your right hand doesn’t know what your left has done 3 – Girl Scouts come over and force you to decorate flower pots with them 2 – You keep discovering new rooms in your house And the No. 1 sign you have Alzheimer’s is…It’s somehow slipped your mind. “
They say a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Dr. Jennifer White is suffering from dementia, lost in the furry, forgetful haze fogged mind maze of Alzheimer’s. Jennifer, along with her caretaker, her handsome son Mark and her opinionated, beautiful daughter, must keep a journal to remind herself of what she has done each day and how the disease is affecting her and others. Photos and Post-it notes on appliances and mirrors serve as sole guidance and mementos of a life and its daily functions that Jennifer is finding harder and harder to remember.
Some days are better than others. There are wardrobe malfunctions in the supermarket, shoeless adventures in the pouring rain. There are blackouts and their subsequent come-tos in strange places filled with strange faces. On other days, Jennifer’s sharp wit and sly demeanor resurface from the quagmire, and a solid, obstinate lucidity replaces the mental maelstrom. There are violent days, mood swings and hostility. There are endless hours of reliving painful memories, clarity resurfacing old wounds, fresh mourning, fresh anguish, relived each time like the first. Paranoia and suspicion are equal opportunity, no one is immune; and then, there is also the small issue of murder.
When Jennifer’s churlish best friend and neighbor, Amanda, is found dead in her home, with her fingers surgically removed, there is only one person the authorities believe can be responsible. When another neighbor claims to have heard the women arguing the week before, and Jennifer suddenly produces a likely weapon, it seems like a closed case. Or is it? How can the authorities get to the truth when even Jennifer is no longer sure of what that is? Alternately written from Jennifer’s addled perspective, snippets of the past and present are mangled and gnarled together, until one and the other are barely recognizable. Turn of Mind, by Alice LaPlante is seductively haunting and brilliant.
Presented in such a manner that the reader is forced to experience Jennifer’s mental decline, her anger and frustration and the anguish of those who love her, Turn of Mind delivers a passionate, poignant, heartbreaking story of a woman’s tormented descent in to a mind no longer able to discern day from night, right from wrong, pleasure from pain.
Expressive, smart and full of twists and turns, including an ending no one will ever see coming, Turn of Mind combines an uncannily concise and formidable view in to the world of Alzhiemer’s and a brutal murder, producing an intensely riveting tale of love, family and the ends and means to which some are willing to go to hold on to it all. Truly exquisite from beginning to end.
Claudia lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband and two children.
The review copy of this book was provided free of any obligation by Atlantic Monthly Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.