The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

memory-keepers-daughter.jpgI’m reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards.  It is about David and Norah Henry, a couple about to have a baby.  A snowstorm prevents them from getting to a hospital and David delivers the baby at his clinic with the help of his nurse.  Soon after their beautiful son is born, Norah, heavily sedated, delivers a second child – a daughter with Down Syndrome.  David, for personal, complicated, and selfish reasons, gives the girl to his nurse and directs her to take the child to an institution to be raised.  He tells Norah that a daughter died during childbirth.  She names the child Phoebe.  David cannot bear the thought of his wife raising a child who will be terribly disabled and probably have a heart condition and die young.  Caroline, the nurse, tries to do as he asks, but when she sees the institution she can’t leave the baby there.  Instead, she runs off to another state to begin her life anew with baby Pheobe, who she raises as her own.  The story goes from there following the parellel lives of David, Norah, and their son Paul who grow with this terrible secret like a palpable wall seperating them all and Caroline and Phoebe living far away – forever linked, but only two of them know. 

I felt that the premise was a bit farfetched – the birth occuring during a snowstorm, so they couldn’t get to the hospital, that David was a doctor and could deliver the children and make that decision without authorities knowing, that Caroline had no life of her own and was able to take off and begin a life with Phoebe.  However once I got past that, I am finding the book very interesting.  It is a good exploration of family dynamics and how some secrets can tear people apart.  How one making a major decision for everyone, especially without their input or even knowlege, will destory everyone.  How sometimes, even love isn’t enough.  And also, how a biological connection is not necessary for a parent-child relationship and how love can be found in many times and places. 

The funny thing is that originally I wanted this book on audio thinking I would listen to it on our China trip.  I’m glad I got it in print and am reading it now, though.  It’s a “mood book” for me.  Some books pull a strong mood for me and this is one – and it isn’t a happy mood.  The book is engaging and is pulling me along, but I wouldn’t want to read it on the way to China or during that trip.  I’m still planning on the Poisonwood Bible for that.  That’s a strange book in many ways, but I find the one character (Adah) so delightful that the mood is positive.  Even the down stuff is more a “oh my gosh, how could he be so stupid!” than it is depressing or sad.  So, I do like The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and I recommend it.  I am looking forward to finishing it, as it has been surprising me and I like that in a book.  Yes, it is a good book.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Maggie –
    I’m reading the same exact book!
    In fact, I was just thinking how I need to quit surfing this damn computer and go do something constructive….
    like read the book!

    Holly

  2. That sounds like a great book to me
    I love disturbing books

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