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The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
The novel starts off describing a normal love story: the moment that a man has fallen in love with a woman, and his clumsy way of getting her attention.
In the midst of a blizzard in Kentucky, Norah's water breaks and David has no other choice but to drive her to the nearest clinic to deliver his own baby with the help of Caroline, the nurse. David was thrilled to have a perfectly healthy baby boy. Moments later, though, his wife was having painful contractions again.
When the baby was delivered, he instantly noticed her up-turned eyes and other obvious facial features that made his world stop. Diagnosing her with Down Syndrome, he gave Caroline his baby girl, Phoebe, and ordered Caroline to take her to an institution, to make her disappear from his life to avoid a lifetime of heartache [or so he thought].
When his wife would question him about her second child, David would solemnly reply that she was a stillborn.
This begins the web of lies and secrecy that destroys David's family and becomes the essence of Caroline's new life with Phoebe.
David's lie tears apart his family as he grows more distant with his heavy guilt. Norah is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart when she has lost not only her baby girl, but her husband as well when he decides that he must record each moment with his new-found interest in photography.
At the same time, Caroline has gone through some sort of epiphany and has realized that maybe, just maybe, Phoebe was what she needed to change her life; to start over, begin anew.
I have never read a novel that has impacted my life as much as this one. Edwards writing technique brings to life these characters as they deal with the repercussions of that fateful night. She divided the story line between time frames that go back and forth between David's life and Norah's life that highlight their struggles with a secret that lasts over a quarter of a century.
This was the type of novel that I never wanted to put down because although I have never been in any sort of situation even remotely similar to the one described by Edwards the themes resounded deep within me. Lies and secrecy will always tear up a person inside until they are only a fragment of who they once were, which is clearly revealed by the way David’s family has crumbled apart.
Of course, the novel also deals with the distress that Caroline had to deal with, trying to raise a baby that is not accepted by society. This juxtaposition that Edwards used to reveal the forever entwined lives of David and Caroline utterly captivates the reader and makes us worry and ache over how their lives have unfolded.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy read, you’ve come to the wrong place. On the other hand, if you want a novel where you can delve into life issues and complications, you better find yourself a copy of “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” and buckle down for all of the twists and turns.