Emily's Reviews > The Memory Keeper's Daughter

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
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Mar 05, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: hersday-book-club, i-own-it, chick-lit, 2008
Read in May, 2008

** spoiler alert ** The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards is a novel about a choice. I went from reading a book about a lie in a moment (Atonement), to a book about a choice made in a moment. It was a good transition. Thanks to some late spring snow (just like Seattle got last night) Dr David Henry is forced to deliver his wife's twins with only the help of his nurse Caroline. The baby boy, Paul, is born 100% healthy and alert, but the baby girl, Phoebe, is born with Downs Syndrome, and David makes the decision to give his daughter to Caroline to take to an institution, rather than raise the child in his family. He tells his wife, Norah, that the child was stillborn, and tries to live his life with just his son. Caroline, however, cannot leave the child at the institution, and makes the decision to raise the child herself in another town. The novel goes back and forth between the lives of Paul and Phoebe, and the ramifications of David's decision.

** The David, Norah, Paul storyline takes place in Lexington. I love Lexington, and I don't think I've ever read a book that takes place there. - Plus 2

** I really liked David's character despite his decision. The author makes his struggle and pain over his decision up front, and he never seems malicious in his decision. It's clear that he truly made it to try to save his wife from further pain. - Plus 3

** Norah on the other hand, I really didn't care much for her. Especially in the middle part of the book. She was kind of a witch. - Minus 2

** Just following the "death" of Phoebe, I really sympathized with Norah's struggle with depression, postpartum issues, and alcoholism. The way it was treated in the novel seemed to echo what I have heard from my parents about how these issues were hidden from view in that time period, and I really appreciated how it was shown and yet not dealt with, much in how it would have happened during that time period. - Plus 3

** Where I appreciated how Norah's issues were presented, I felt like Caroline's struggles with raising a child with Downs Syndrome were glossed over. One meeting with the school board, one mention of the struggles to find other mom's in similar situations. While it would have added about 100 pages to the book, I would have liked to see more with that storyline and more details on how society reacted to children with Downs Syndrome during the 1960s and 1970s. - Minus 4

** I don't know that I really buy that an at home photographer with a dark room above his garage would get to the point that he's giving lectures. Especially since he spent the majority of his time being a doctor. - Minus 2

** While the book deals with moderately controversial topic, it was definitely something that you wouldn't have trouble recommending to anyone from your aunt, to your co-worker, to your bus buddy. It's relatively unoffensive, and is a novel that I think a lot of people would read and enjoy. Well, one that a lot of women would enjoy, I'm not so sure it's a man's man kind of book ;) - Plus 2

** This is the second book (the other being The Namesake) I've read recently that deals with detached fathers and the resulting relationship with their sons. The story lines were different, but the same type of struggle to have a relationship existed. Both books were written by women. And both made me wonder if the men only have issues with the relationships because they're being viewed and written about through a woman's perspective. It makes me want to seek out a novel about fathers and sons written by a man. - Neutral

** I wanted more with Al. - Minus 2

** Despite not being a total Norah fan, this book had some great strong female characters. Caroline, who makes a decision to raise a child with Downs Syndrome that is not even her own flesh and blood. Norah, who goes from being a house wife to a successful business woman. Doro, a successful physics professor at a time when most women didn't work, let alone were leading academics. And Bree, who has a strong sense of self throughout the novel, and really sets a good example for Norah to be strong. - Plus 3

** I didn't like why it was titled The Memory Keeper's Daughter. For a while there, I was hoping that Caroline lived out her dream and traveled to a far away country with Phoebe. To a place where people worshiped those who were different, and Phoebe became a powerful shaman in an indigenous tribe. - Minus 2

** From the television channel that brought us, The Fantasia Barrino Story ... Lifetime is making the made for TV movie. It airs on April 12th. It stars Dermot Mulroney. I admit to having a slight weakness when it comes to Lifetime's made for TV movies and a pretty big weakness when it comes to Mr. Mulroney. I'll probably watch it. I might be a little excited. - Plus 2

** So, what about Rosemary?? - Minus 2

Final score ... 1

I didn't love it or hate it. There were some flaws, but some outstanding points as well. The final tally seems about right.
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Laura I like the way you rate with a plus one, minus two, etc. I'm impressed! :)

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