The New York Times bestseller—a stunning first novel, both literary and thriller, about a retired orthopedic surgeon with dementia.
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 friends—two 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?
“An electrifying book. Thought-provoking, humane, funny, tragic, a tour de force that can’t be a first novel—and yet it is.” —Ann Packer, New York Times–bestselling author
“This poignant debut immerses us in dementia’s complex choreography . . . [A] lyrical mosaic, an indelible portrait of a disappearing mind.” —People
“LaPlante has imagined a lunatic landscape well. The twists and turns of mind this novel charts are haunting and original.” —The New York Times Book Review
LaPlante's impressive first novel sensitively explores the mental disintegration of widowed 64-year-old Jennifer White, a once-lauded Chicago hand surgeon, who charts her own experiences with Alzheimer's both consciously, in notes she writes to herself and thoughts she shares, and unconsciously, as she records conversations and actions she witnesses but doesn't understand. When someone fatally bludgeons Jennifer's best friend, 75-year-old Amanda O'Toole, who lives just three doors away, suspicion falls on Jennifer because the killer surgically removed four fingers from Amanda's right hand. In a satisfying twist, Jennifer honestly doesn't know herself whether she committed the murder. Jennifer's 29-year-old lawyer son, Mark, wishes to have his mother declared mentally incompetent, while her 24-year-old daughter, Fiona, a sweet, loving flake, and her full-time caretaker, Magdalena, act out of less selfish motives. Mystery fans should be prepared for a subtle literary novel in which the unfolding of Jennifer's condition and of her past matters far more than the whodunit. 16-city author tour.