Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

By Kim Edwards

Let's start off with a synopsis from the Barnes and Noble website (I am pretty sure this is the same as the back cover of the book too):

"On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down's Syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split-second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret.

But Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this beautifully told story that unfolds over a quarter of a century in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that long-ago winter night."

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? The beginning of the book starts fairly strong, quickly bringing me into the story. However, by about the third or fourth chapter, I just wasn't interested anymore. The writing didn't particularly grip me, and I found the characters fairly one dimensional and annoying. Especially Norah. I cannot imagine being in her place, but at the same time, I just wanted to shake her and yell "get over it! you are destroying your family!". Also, it bothered me the whole time that everything could have been avoided and eventually fixed (to a degree) if David had just been honest from the beginning, or at least once he realized how devastated that Norah was.

I can't support David's decision, but I really did believe that he was trying to do what was best for his family and that he regretted it. I hate that he was almost demonized throughout the book.

The only character that I did really enjoy, probably for her refreshing honesty, was Rosemary. I was disappointed that she played such a little part of the book. I enjoyed every scene she was in, especially where she is first introduced and has tied David up!

Although the book really didn't do anything for me story-wise, I did find myself thinking a lot about it. Particularly the family dynamics and the importance honesty plays in it. I can't imagine having a secret as enormous as "our daughter is really alive" and keeping it from my husband, but it made me wonder what little "unimportant" secrets I might be keeping from him. Do they have an effect on our relationship? I think that my husband and I are very open and honest with each other, and I can't really think of any secrets, but if I ever have one I want to hide, I will probably find myself thinking back on The Memory Keeper's Daughter and be honest with him instead of trying to take the "easy" way out.

1 comment:

Chain Reader said...

I really liked this one--it made me think, even though it was very depressing. Everyone in the story had weaknesses that were hard to read about. Rosemary was the ray of sunshine in the book though. I know someone who just had a Down Syndrome baby, and I kept thinking of her and how her life would be challenged as well as blessed.