Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by: Kim Edwards
On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down's Syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split-second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret.
But Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this beautifully told story that unfolds over a quarter of a century in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that long-ago winter night.
“A moment was not a single moment at all, but rather an infinite number of different moments, depending on who was seeing things and how.”
--The Memory Keeper’s Daughter; page 214-215
On of the first things to draw me into The Memory Keeper’s Daughter was the story. The second thing that drew me in was Edwards’ style of writing. It’s very poetic and flows together to create beautiful passages and moments. I loved the imagery and descriptions she gave (though some become a bit redundant at times); everything just sounded so beautiful, even if she was describing a great tragedy.
I also liked how all of the characters in this novel were selfish, because it made them realistically human. Each one of them made mistakes. David wasn’t the only character to make a wrong decision, though his was, obviously, the climax of the novel.
Speaking of the climax of the novel, I liked how it was right in the beginning of the novel, and how the rest of the novel was the resolution. This story was about consequences and living with a secret and how it can tear people apart. I like novels that show that aspect of human life. It’s always interesting.
"This was what his father had believed: that each person was an isolated universe."
--The Memory Keeper's Daughter; page 381
The characters were written well. The reader can sympathize with them all at one point, and at one point want to shake them and ask them to wake the hell up. I felt bad for Norah, started to dislike her a bit during the middle of the novel, and towards the end of the book I understood. Even though she made some bad decisions, I understood why she made those decisions. Just like I understood why David made the decision he made. It wasn’t the best decision, but I understood. And that was a fulfilling moment.
All in all, I really liked the novel. It’s probably one of the best pieces of literary fiction I’ve read (I would consider it literary fiction, not genre fiction, per say). The characters are completely realistic and it has a beautiful tone of voice to it. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, and tried to soak in as much as I could. This is a novel I can definitely see myself re-reading.
"He imagined the notes falling into the air like stones into water, rippling the invisible surface of the world. Waves of sand, waves of light: his father had tried to pin everything down, but the world was fluid and could not be contained."
--The Memory Keeper's Daughter; page 401
Overall rating: 9/10