October 6, 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

I just finished The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. The novel begins with a woman having twins in a snowstorm, delivered by her husband, a doctor. He recognizes that one of the children has Down Syndrome, so he gives his daughter to the nurse, and tells his wife that their daughter has died. The rest of the story jumps back and forth between the lives of husband and wife raising the son, and the nurse raising their daughter.

I thought the idea of the story was pretty interesting, but found it to be somewhat slow-moving, especially the first third of the novel. It also didn't feel fully developed to me, like the author simply had a message she wanted to convey and used this story as a thin wrapper. In fact, on page 258, what I felt was the main message of the book was plainly stated:

He had tried to protect his son from the things he himself had suffered as a child: poverty and worry and grief. Yet his very efforts had created losses David never anticipated.

I just found this book went too far to try to force-feed this idea. What, you mean things are bad all over? That you can never shield anyone entirely from bad things? That there's no such thing as the "perfect" life, and that maybe there is joy to be found in the imperfections? Well, no kidding! I didn't need this whole forced novel to teach me that lesson.

The ending also fell a bit flat. It felt more like the novel just petered out than really ended.

That said, there were some parts that were more enjoyable. While I never felt like it was expanded upon enough, I did really enjoy the sections about Phoebe, the young woman with Down Syndrome, and Caroline, the nurse who chose to uproot her own life rather than place Phoebe in an institution.

Overall, it wasn't a terrible book. It just wasn't a really interesting, thoughtful, or engaging book either.


This book was previously reviewed here by Courtney way back in January, and Britni in April. Check theirs out, too, although none of us were really blown away by this one! Next time I'll check for reviews here *before* I pick up a book, as I could have just saved myself from reading this one :)


  1. I completely with everything you wrote. Phoebe was by far my favorite character in the book. I just loved her "I can do anything" attitude.

  2. Overall, it wasn't a terrible book. It just wasn't a really interesting, thoughtful, or engaging book either.

    exactly how I felt about it too.

  3. I reviewed it here as well. Didn't love it either.

  4. Playful Professional, sorry I missed yours! I just edited my entry to add your review.

    How funny that three of us reviewed it, and none of us really liked it! That's some consensus!


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