Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Pages: 305
Date: 26/10/2011
Grade: 5

Amanda O’Toole has been killed, and after she died four of her fingers were surgically removed by someone who obviously knew what they were doing.
The police investigating the killing are convinced that Jennifer White has killed Amanda, who was her neighbour and best friend.
Jennifer White is a retired orthopaedic surgeon who used to specialise in hands. And Jennifer has Alzheimer’s, which makes her a very unreliable suspect and almost impossible to interrogate.
As her Alzheimer’s gets steadily worse, Jennifer moves backwards and forwards through her memories throwing light on her life, her marriage her children and her, at times volatile, relationship with Amanda.
Did she kill and/or mutilate Amanda? Even Jennifer isn’t sure about the answer to that question, and when the solution to the mystery is revealed to her, all we know for sure is that she won’t be able to remember it.

This was a chilling read on several levels.
There is of course Amanda’s death and what was done to her afterwards, which in and off itself would be scary enough. But in many ways, for me, that was the least chilling part of the story.
The relationships in the book affected me more. The relationships between Jennifer and those around her, her deceased husband, her children and her friend Amanda all seemed to have dark aspects. Jealousies, rivalries and power struggles seemed to be below (and at times in the forefront of) a lot of her interactions with others.
However, by far the most chilling aspect of this book was the disease, Alzheimer’s.
This has been the second book I read about a person slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And as I did when I read Still Alice by Lisa Genova I found myself scared by the disease and by what it does to the person suffering from it and those who have to watch the slow but unrelentless deterioration.
This is a very well written book. I could picture Jennifer, and although I didn’t like her very much, I was able to feel and understand her despair and anger.
Alice LaPlante made Jennifer’s shrinking world very real for me which means that this is a story that will stay with me for a long time.
I’m not sure what other people will make of this review. While my rating shows that I think this is a good book, I can’t help feeling that what I’ve written about it could well put people of reading it. I hope that isn’t the case though, since this is an original and fascinating, if at times disturbing, read.

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