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Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter | Kim Edwards

“He'd kept this silence because his own secrets were darker, more hidden, and because he believed that his secrets had created hers.” 

Genre: Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 401
Perspective: Third
Location: Pennsylvania and Kentucky

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is about a doctor that has to help his wife give birth to their twin babies during a blizzard. When the doctor realizes that his daughter is born with Down’s Syndrome, he tells his nurse —who is in love with him—to take his daughter to a group home. The nurse tries, but decides to keep the daughter as her own. When the wife wakes up, the doctor tells her that the daughter died during birth, but they have a healthy son. We see how this one decision affects these families over a quarter of a century. For a complete summary, you can go here.

I’ll be honest, this book is very difficult for me to review. At some points, I hated it and at other points I was deeply moved and connected to the story. After reflecting on it for a bit, I think that this book was important to society, but it was hard to get through. It’s important to society because a lot of people don’t realize how poorly children (and adults) with disabilities used to be treated. They were seen as defective and were usually given away and ended up in horrible conditions. It is horrific what happened in the story, but I think it will open up people’s eyes to how things used to be and how we can continue to fight for the rights of people with disabilities since they are still not always treated fairly. I do think that Phoebe — the daughter with Down’s Syndrome — should have had more of a voice in this story since she was such a focal point. Instead, we only hear about her through the eyes of other characters. 

This was a hard book to read for a variety of reasons, First of all, it was very dry. It actually took me awhile to finish this book. I would read it a little bit then read another book then come back to it. I probably read five other books in the time it took me to read this one. The descriptions are just too much. There’s no denying that Edwards is a talented writer. She really does have a way with words. Her scene descriptions really make you feel like you are watching the story as a movie, and that literary skill tends to be pushed aside in the fast-paced style of most modern readers that want the writer to just “get to the point”. But this style is very difficult, and time-consuming to read. It’s not a book that you can binge read in a day or two. 

It was also hard to read because of the content. The whole story is just sad. Period. At some points, I felt sympathy for the characters, and there was even some sense of hope and resolution at the end, but mainly it was sad. The doctor’s decision in the very first part of the book affects him, and everyone around him, their entire lives. This book spans across a quarter of a century, so you can really see how one decision can ruin everything. But you also have to wonder how they would have turned out differently if he made the opposite choice because he thought his choice would have the better outcome. 

This is certainly a book that will make you think, and will make you feel many different emotions. But prepare yourself for a long, drawn out journey with all of these characters. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“A moment might be a thousand different things.” 

 3/5 Stars

*****

o Amber Gregg