Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Book 49 in the 50 Book Challenge

Despite having an extremely active week with my house guests (and kids!), I did manage to get a bit of late-night reading done.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter probably won't make my top ten best books of all time, but I'm confident in recommending it as a VERY GOOD READ.
Author Kim Edwards does an amazing job with her characters, letting us into the very depths of their damaged souls, set between the story of parallel lives.

I'm going to attempt to give a brief summary - but you know this isn't my forte!

It's 1964 and Dr. David Henry and his wife Norah -- young and passionately in love -- are about to have their first child. A snowstorm prevents them from making it to the hospital on time, so they divert to David's clinic.

Norah gives birth to twins, but is told her daughter has died. Except she didn't.

Phoebe is born with Down's Syndrome and it being 1964, is not expected to live. David gives the infant to his nurse, Caroline Gill, - a singe woman who happens to be in love with the good doctor, -to take to an institution, an acceptable choice for someone back then. Except she doesn't.

Caroline, upon seeing the horrible institution, takes Phoebe herself and moves to another city.

Norah can't get over the loss of Phoebe, and she doesn't understand David's unwillingness to talk about her. The emotional husband-wife bond seems to have been replaced with a wall. She doesn't realize that he husband is burdened by guilt and secrets.

David lost his sister to a heart condition when they were children and the damage it did to his parents was unbearable. He was trying to spare Norah the horrible future that was inevitable with a Down's child. Always the protector, trying to save the world, David's decision to give up Phoebe turns out to the thread the unravels his marriage, his happiness and his dreams.

Meanwhile, Caroline gives high-functioning Phoebe a life of love and opportunity, though she too bears the secrets of Phoebe's birth, always worried that David will appear and take Phoebe away.

This book squeezed my heart from the beginning and didn't let go. There were no bad guys or good guys, just beautifully drawn human characters that were entirely relatable, making choices that they honestly thought were the right ones at the time.
I felt their pain, their regret and empathized with their situations.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for reviewing The Memory Keeper's Daughter -- that's a book on my to-read list, and indeed, it sounds wonderful!

Hugs to you, and purrs to your kitties. :-D

Christine d'Abo said...

This sounds very interesting. I may have to try this out after I get through the back list of books on my night stand.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I went back and forth from sympathy to wanting to shake both parents. 49 books, Wow! What will #50 be?

Amy Ruttan said...

That sounds great, something to read after LU. heehee. ;)

No seriously, another for the TBR pile.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good read and congrats on it being the 49th :-)

Red Garnier said...

I read this book a few months ago and loved Kim's descriptions and voice. I love books like hers, where, as you say, there are no good or bad guys . . . only very real humans, flaws and all. I loved it!!

Dewey said...

I felt the exact same way, that it was a very good read, and I'd definitely recommend it, but it's not going into the top 10 list.