Nola Redd's Reviews > The Memory Keeper's Daughter

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
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's review
Mar 26, 08

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction-fantasy
Recommended for: anyone who thinks lying is okay in marriage
Read in January, 2008

Some moments in our lives are crossroads, moments where the course of our lives is shaped. Sometimes the deviation is minor, and sometimes it is life-altering. Such are the forces that form the first chapter of Kim Edwards’ novel, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.

A dreadful snowstorm forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his first child, which to his surprise turns out to be twins. The first is a perfect son, ideal in all ways. But the second child has Down’s syndrome. In a moment that changed and defined the life of all five people in the room – the twins, the parents, and the nurse – Dr. Henry requests that his nurse take the girl to a home for the mentally retarded. Instead, she takes the child away and raises her as her own. The mother is told only that her daughter was stillborn.

Edwards traces the lives of the two families over the next twenty-five years. Dr. Henry sought to shelter his wife and son from grief, but his deep, dark secret winds up alienating him from his family, and the pain he caused may well exceed what they would have otherwise have suffered. His monumentous deception creates a wall upon which other lies are built. As he draws away from his wife, she draws away from him. Their deceptions impact their son, who begins erecting his own walls.

Part of David’s withdrawl is accentuated by the gift of a camera that enables him to remove himself from his family’s life. Even when he is present for events and activities, he isolates himself behind the lens. Only years later does he come to realize that much of his life was spent in observation rather than active participation.

Meanwhile, as Caroline raises the unwanted child, her perspective completely changes. Instead of waiting to be loved, she learns to find fulfillment in loving. After several years, she recognizes that she was not a passive victim but an active accomplice in the deception.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is a tale of deception and treachery, but it is also a story of walls and barriers. Over and over again, David had the opportunity and even the desire to confess and come clean, and yet he never does. Instead, he remains silent, and his silence is frequently misinterpreted, driving another wedge between himself and those he loves. Although few of us deceive to such magnitude, the story manages to illustrate the price of deception of all sizes. Edwards has managed to weave a convincing story of tragedy, fully drawing the reader into her tale.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Dawn (new) - added it

Dawn You spelled 'withdrawal' wrong.

Bryony Sykes You hit the nail on the head Nola! It certainly was a 'crossroad' in our lives, 2 twenty three year olds.

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