Jennifer's Reviews > The Memory Keeper's Daughter

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
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's review
Jul 06, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: borrowed, wrote-review
Read from August 21 to 23, 2011

I had such a hard time rating this book. I’d really like to give it a rating between two and three stars, but that isn’t possible. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t like it a lot either. I finished it feeling nothing really about it either way, it is just a book I have read, which is the reason I gave it two instead of three stars.
I think I would have cared about the book more if a larger part of the book focused on Caroline and Phoebe. The book focuses more on David, Norah, and Paul, and unfortunately I just didn’t find myself caring about them. I was unable to care about how a secret affected their lives. While I was able to understand, on a certain level, why David did what he did and how at the moment he did believe he was doing the right thing, I just didn’t have any empathy for how that single action affected the relationships in his home. I didn’t really find myself feeling for Norah either; the actions of her husband that she had been completely unaware of had galvanized her to make choices that I didn’t agree with and eventually left me feeling like she’d grown into a selfish character. Paul was also an innocent victim having to deal with the aftermath of an action beyond his control, yet his endless resistance to his parents, particularly his father, seemed childish.
I did enjoy Caroline and Phoebe though. I felt Caroline was the one character that grew and developed. She starts as the stereotypical “old maid” type, quietly living her life and doing what is expected of her just waiting for that moment when her life really begins. She has strength that David and Norah didn’t possess. She sees that the institution that David wanted her to take Phoebe to is a terrible place; she has the strength to see beyond the conventional medical wisdom of the time and the heart to realize that living in one of those awful places wasn’t in the best interest of the helpless infant. While I didn’t agree with David’s actions, I can’t help but wonder if giving Phoebe to Caroline wasn’t actually a blessing for Phoebe because I wasn’t sure that Norah would have fought for Phoebe with the conviction that Caroline had. I wonder if a young Norah would have continued to be the proper wife and instead of giving her daughter a loving home would have listened to the wisdom of her esteemed doctor husband and placed her daughter in an institution because that was considered the right thing to do.
I enjoyed reading about Caroline finding her place in the world and her devotion to Phoebe. I wanted to applaud her. My son doesn’t have Downs but he does have a condition that caused a significant speech delay. He was three years old before he could speak. While he was not mentally delayed in anyway and could hear and understand people perfectly well, he couldn’t speak. Even today there is a difference between how people treat “normal” children and special children. So even though the story was fictional, I wanted to cheer for Caroline as she fought for her daughter to be treated like a real person and not a second class citizen.

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08/21/2011 page 22

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