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Book: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

June 9, 2008

I was just sitting here finishing reading the paper, feeling like blogging but unsure what to write about, and then I remembered that I had finished this book last night! Yay!

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, by Kim Edwards, is a tragic, yet hopeful book. A physician must deliver his own twins. One of them had Down’s Syndrome. His wife, asleep during the delivery (as was the norm in the 60s), didn’t know… he gave the baby to the nurse to take away to an institution. When she awoke, he found himself telling her that the baby had died. Instead, the nurse, unable to leave the baby at the horrible institution, takes the little girl and starts a new life on her own. The terrible secret eats a hole in the doctor’s family… and the nurse is gifted with a life she could never have dreamed of for herself.

While this book doesn’t fall into the “I loved it” category, I did really enjoy it. The story was unusual and extremely engaging — I didn’t want to put the book down. It was not so much fast-paced as enjoyably paced — I didn’t get bored at all and it wasn’t a particularly short book. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the nurse, who sets up life in Pittsburgh, and her ‘daughter’, Phoebe. Throughout nearly the entire book, the question remains: Will the doctor ever tell his wife the terrible secret?

The book sort of falls apart a bit at the end for me. It wasn’t so much that it wasn’t a good ending; it was a very good ending — although I would argue that it might have been more interesting to end the book a little more ambiguously. It almost felt like those movies where all the scary stuff happens because you don’t see the monster… and then went you see the monster, suddenly it becomes silly. It was sort of like that; while the mystery remained, the book was much more gripping. Once everything was resolved (I’ll let you read the book to find out how it was resolved), the story lost its grip on me. It felt kind of flat.

Nevertheless, a completely readable and thought-provoking book. What would YOU have done? Each character is very vivid and individual — I didn’t feel as though any of them were particularly formulaic, which was nice. They each find their way through the maze of this heartache, in ways that one might not expect.

I think that is what I enjoyed the most — the story felt new, and refreshing in its uniqueness. I wasn’t at all sure how it was going to turn out. The characters surprised me. I wanted to know them more. That’s always good.

Now, I need to finish my other book, and then start in again on the huge pile of set-aside-to-reads that we have in our living room.

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