Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards~★★★

Author: Kim Edwards
Title: The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Release Date: May 30th, 2006
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Fiction

Book Cover: "This stunning novel begins on a winter night in 1964, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down's syndrome. For motives he tells himself are good, he makes a split-second decision that will haunt all their lives forever. He asks his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby away to an institution. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child as her own. Compulsively readable and deeply moving, The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a brilliantly crafted story of parallel lives, familial secrets, and the redemptive power of love."

Taryn's Review: The book is hard to connect to, at least for me, because you cannot understand Dr. David Henry's decision to basically "get rid" of his own daughter. Dr. Henry deceptively carried out his plan by convincing his wife that the baby died at birth. At first, his argument was that he is protecting his son since as a child Dr. Henry had a sister who was ill and she received most of the attention because of it. But Dr. Henry also saw his mother mourn from the loss of losing a child, so I cannot figure out why he assumed his wife would simply bounce back from the supposed death of her own child without questioning it.

This incident strained Dr. Henry and his wife so badly they never rekindled themselves into the couple they were before the birth. It was evident that strain was there and later, Norah cracked and began to have affairs with men while Dr. Henry became preoccupied with his photography, leaving their son Paul to handle the pressures of teen years alone.

Caroline did a good job of raising Phoebe to the best of her abilities, but she was just as guilty as Dr. Henry in allowing the situation to happen and later realized this. However, the amount of years that pass before Caroline decided to tell Norah the truth is astounding, especially since Caroline knew first hand the pain and heartache that Norah suffered through.

A completely odd section of the story was when Dr. Henry brought home a pregnant teen from his hometown, abandoned his wife Norah, and helped raise the teen girl and her child. I have no idea while Edwards added this. The book would have been better to just leave it out. I don't know if it was meant to be Dr. Henry's "substitute" daughter? Food for thought, I guess.

Edwards is a strong writer and while the story is good, it almost is doesn't always feel believable. Dr. Henry's coldness in giving his daughter away and letting letting his wife suffer is unimaginable. Caroline, in essence, stole someone's child, but throughout the novel, showed little remorse in what she's done regarding inflicting pain on Norah Henry. I liked it enough, but wouldn't read it again.

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