Becca's Reviews > The Memory Keeper's Daughter

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
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's review
Nov 12, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: book-club

Although I really liked this book, I'm not sure I would openly recommend it to people for fear of them coming back and saying, "You liked THAT?" So there, I warned you, and if you decide to read it, you can't blame me!

The story starts in 1964 with a husband, who is a doctor, delivering his own wife's baby late on a snowy night at his clinic, because they couldn't make it to the hospital in the snow storm. After their son is born, his wife gives birth to an unexpected twin- a daughter with Down's syndrome. The husband, in an attempt to spare his wife grief, tells the nurse to take the baby away to an institution. He means to tell his wife what he has done, but instead tells her the second baby died. And it goes from there.

It is a very interesting and thought provoking book about the effects of a "big bad" secret in a family's life. Of not being allowed to grieve in an open and healthy manner, and this leading to grieving secretly and destructively. Of trying to escape grief leading to sorrow, while facing challenges leading to joy. And of how society's view of grief, of what is socially acceptable, and of Down's syndrome has shifted over the decades.

The author wove many levels of detail and imagery into the book, which was a joy to read. I felt she also had an incredible depth of understanding of the emotions people feel in different experiences and times of their life, and what those emotions can motivate them to do. In particular, I really enjoyed how right on her descriptions were of a young grieving mother in a society that does not allow her to fully grieve. Kim Edwards had such tremendous compassion for the characters, that even when I didn't like what they were doing, I felt I understood why they were doing it and what they were trying to accomplish, and so I had to feel some compassion for them as well. That was what I enjoyed about this book. That and the view of how much the culture shifted from 1964 to the late 80's.

I didn't enjoy that there is immorality in this book, although she stops short of descriptive sex, for which I am grateful. She does show that the immorality does not bring happiness. Most of all I didn't enjoy watching the family fall apart because they failed to communicate. I found parts of it rather depressing. At times I wanted to put down the book and run and hug my children and husband with tears of joy for the wonderful and happy family that I have. I was disappointed that the author seemed to portray life as having no real hope for a true, deep, meaningful, and loving relationship where communication and honesty exist. I would have given it 5 stars if it hadn't been so depressing. I am grateful that at least it ended with a sense of peace and hope for the future.

Although I have mixed feelings about the book, I fully admire the talent of the author. The story was depressing, but the author's depth and talent was a joy to read. That is why I gave it four stars, and that is why I am glad to have read this book.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by EJ (new) - rated it 1 star

EJ Johnson Very nice review. I didn't like the book but I do like your review and reasoning.

Becca Thanks. It took me awhile to figure out my feelings about this book. I'm still not sure if I should have given it as many stars as I did! :)

message 3: by Dia (last edited Nov 16, 2008 06:41AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dia Great review. I didn't like this book either. I think that you mentioned the reasons why I didn't like it. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it. You do such a good job on your reviews. I'm envious.

Jenny Yeah, I didn't like this book so much. Read my review here:

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