The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is a novel all about our perceived ideas created by our insecurities vs. reality and it works well. I enjoyed this book but the writing grated on my nerves at times. David Henry and wife Norah Henry are having a child. One wintery evening they rush to the hospital and Norah surprisingly gives birth to twins. The female twin, Phoebe is born with Down Syndrome, and because of David’s past with his own sister, he gives Phoebe to the nurse to take to a home. David then tells Norah that Phoebe died during the delivery, keeping a secret that will tear their life apart. Caroline can’t give Phoebe up to the home and ends up raising Phoebe herself. This is a novel about lies and secrets, the pain of the past influencing the present, and how important decisions really are in the moment.
I liked how this book went through an entire family’s life and we saw the impact of David’s decision throughout many decades. Because this book takes place in the 60’s-80’s there is a lot of misconceptions about Down Syndrome by our characters but what is great is the activism by Phoebe’s mother, Caroline, to get Phoebe the education she needs. I liked how the time period shaped the characters and the background of the story in subtle ways. I also really enjoyed getting into the head of the characters and understanding the decisions they made and why. At first, I hated some of the characters, David in particular, but when I learned more about his past, I came to understand that his flaws made sense.
I really got a bit irritated with how this book was written at times. There is a lot of throw away description in this book that I didn’t really think was necessary. There were times when I just got annoyed with the use of all the adjectives. Also, this is one of those books where no one talks straight with each other, everyone hides everything from everyone. The entire plot of the book revolves around the secrets the characters hold from each other. If you are a straight forward person that basically says anything to the people you love, this book can be a bit aggravating to read.
It’s a good book that really made me think about the vulnerabilities of characters and how that can be turned into a story. It also made me realize the importance of communication in a relationship and to not let things go unsaid. If anything, I learned not what to do by reading this story. At times it felt a little like the TV show Mad Men, so if that makes it seem more interesting then maybe check it out. Also, if you like contemporary family dramas, this is a good one to read too.
13/25 Possible Score
3 – Plot
3 – Characters
2 – Setting
2 – Writing Style
3 – Heart & Mind Aspect