Turn of Mind

By Alice LaPlante
(Atlantic Monthly Press, Hardcover, 9780802119773, 307pp.)

Publication Date: July 2011

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the July 2011 Indie Next List
“This is an emotionally intense story of a 64-year-old hand surgeon, Jennifer White, as she experiences the unyielding onslaught of dementia. On any given day she is lucid, catatonic, violent, or very, very sly. Does she feel any remorse for her less-than-stellar parenting of her two children? Did she kill her friend Amanda and amputate her fingers? LaPlante's exceptional skill with words puts readers inside this brilliant woman's mind so that we might experience her anger, frustration, and increasing confusion. This is a remarkable, heart-wrenching, and utterly compelling debut novel.”
-- Susan Wasson, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM


Description

A stunning first novel, both literary and thriller, about a retired orthopedic surgeon with dementia, Turn of Mind has already received worldwide attention. With unmatched patience and a pulsating intensity, Alice LaPlante brings us deep into a brilliant woman’s deteriorating mind, where the impossibility of recognizing reality can be both a blessing and a curse.

As the book opens, Dr. Jennifer White’s best friend, Amanda, who lived down the block, has been killed, and four fingers surgically removed from her hand. Dr. White is the prime suspect and she herself doesn’t know whether she did it. Told in White’s own voice, fractured and eloquent, a picture emerges of the surprisingly intimate, complex alliance between these life-long friendstwo proud, forceful women who were at times each other’s most formidable adversaries. As the investigation into the murder deepens and White’s relationships with her live-in caretaker and two grown children intensify, a chilling question lingers: is White’s shattered memory preventing her from revealing the truth or helping her to hide it?

A startling portrait of a disintegrating mind clinging to bits of reality through anger, frustration, shame, and unspeakable loss, Turn of Mind is a remarkable debut that examines the deception and frailty of memory and how it defines our very existence.




About the Author
ALICE LaPLANTE is an award-winning and bestselling author of six books, including the New York Times bestseller Turn of Mind and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Method and Madness: The Making of a Story. She teaches creative writing at Stanford University, where she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer. She also teaches in the MFA program at San Francisco State University. She lives with her family in Northern California.


Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What is the time span of the novel? Were you clear about the flashbacks in Jennifer’s memory? Even in her surreal perceptions, is she still working out the past in the stories of James, Mark, Fiona, Amanda, and Peter? What about Dr. Tsu? Is the past really the past in Turn of Mind?   

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