The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

memorykeeper.jpgThis book has left me feeling like the limp tissue that was in my hand after mopping up all the tears I shed over the final ten pages. Seriously, I’m all soggy and weepy here. I could go on and on, but will try to be brief and save my long-windedness for my book club discussion of this next week. The plot in a nutshell is simply a doctor in 1964 delivers his own twins-a son and a daughter with Down’s Syndrome. He sends the daughter away the nurse to an institution and tells his wife the baby died. That decision affects the lives of his daughter, his son, his wife, himself, the nurse, and the nurse’s husband.

Memory… was super well written. Emotionally powerful, believably flawed characters, themes of love and forgiveness, and a compelling story. Although it broke my heart to think of a lost opportunity for a relationship between a mother and a child, one can’t really think that David’s actions ruined everyone’s lives. Had he not made that fateful decision then the nurse (Caroline) would not have had the child and husband and fulfilled life that she did. It’s a very thoughtful portrayal of effects of actions, especially that of a secret on a marriage. I was amazed at Norah’s resiliency and ability to forgive upon finally learning the secret, but it was so painful to see her realize that she’d never have a mother-daughter relationship with her daughter.

I think the other thing that really stood our for me was the time span of the book–twenty-five years! All books that have that set up tend to make me melancholy and sad (Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler, comes to mind). To see someone’s life stretch out and change so rapidly (in reading time, not in years), to come to like a character as he or she is and then see them fall into despair, or gain independence, die, fall in and out of love, well it can be a bit emotionally taxing. Thank goodness we don’t see our own lives like that.

Highly recommended and I like forward to discussing this with my book group.

**It’s now a couple weeks later and my book club just met this morning to discuss the book. I think I liked it best out of all of us, one of us didn’t really like it. But we did find a lot to talk about, especially speculating what Norah and David’s lives would have been like if they had had one healthy baby as they’d hoped. We all agreed that their marriage would have fallen apart eventually since David carried a lot of things about his childhood inside him that he would not share.


2 thoughts on “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

  1. This book sounds so interesting. Someone asked me a few weeks ago for a book that would make her cry; I’ll have to remember this title should anyone ever ask that again.

    I loved your comment about books condensing the arc of a character’s life. A great example of this is the Raj Quartet by Paul Scott. Characters you find disgusting in book one are somehow turned sympathetic when you go through all the ups and downs over a span of however many weeks in takes you to read all four books.

  2. Pingback: Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz « The Last Book I Read

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