My review of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
May 5, 2010 5 Comments
I’m happy that I’m finally getting back on track with my book reading of late. “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards is book number eight of my “26 in 52 Challenge” and it’s been a while but I can finally say I enjoyed just about every aspect of this book.
In the winter of 1964 times were much different. People were a lot less tolerant of babies who were born “malformed”. Such was the case with this novel. Dr. David Henry and his wife Norah were expecting the birth of their first child, however after a series of events that leads Dr. Henry to have to deliver his own, he finds his wife was carrying twins. The first child, a boy, Paul, was born healthy, but the second, a girl, Phoebe, was born with Down Syndrome. Dr. Henry notices this right away and makes the decision to not tell his wife about Phoebe. As was common with the time, many children born with Down Syndrome were sent to institutions where they would live out their days; this is where Dr. Henry asked his nurse Caroline Gill to take Phoebe that night. Caroline ends up taking Phoebe, leaving town and raising her. The rest of the novel looks at how everyone deals with the situation, including Norah, and eventually her son Paul who believe Phoebe died at birth.
It was a very emotional novel to read, and quite shocking to learn about how those with Down Syndrome were treated back then. There are still many stigmas and prejudices that exist today, but the situation is much improved, comparatively. It also takes place over many decades and shows that progression of the difficulties families had to deal with in simply getting their children in schools and the community.
As I’ve found with many Penguin books, this one was very character driven, and I got the chance to experience the viewpoints of three or four richly detailed people and how they experienced their lives, living with their situations. I highly recommend this one and you will not be disappointed. I give it a 5/5.
I did a Google search and found it was made into a Lifetime movie of the week and was kind of upset. I pictured this being made into something for the big screen, though who knows, it could still happen one day.