Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review: The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Book 20/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Date completed: September 20, 2011.

I found the cover of this book while perusing Pinterest one day and I was drawn in by it instantly (much in the same way I was with Before I Fall.)  Pinterest seems to be one of my main methods for book-scouting lately.  In the case of The Memory Keeper's Daughter, the title sounded familiar, though I couldn't place it.  After I'd gotten through more than half of the book I mentioned it to a friend and she told me that it had been made into a Lifetime movie, which she had seen.

The subject matter of The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a little heavy.  A young woman in 1964 gives birth in the midst of a snowstorm.  Her husband, a doctor, ends up delivering his own firstborn: Paul, a perfect little boy.  And then, unexpectedly, he delivers his own second born: Phoebe, a baby girl with Down Syndrome.  In order to spare his wife the pain he had experienced growing up when his younger sister died as a result of a heart defect, he asks his trusted nurse to take the infant to a facility and tells his wife that their son's twin was a stillborn.

The nurse finds herself unable to leave Phoebe to live her life unwanted in the cold facility and winds up ultimately raising her as her own child.  The secret tears the young family apart in a very slow and painful way as Norah - Paul and Phoebe's biological mother - finds herself unable to let go of the daughter she never even laid eyes on and her husband, David, continues to burrow himself further and further into an elaborate tangle of deception.

The book was good.  It wasn't my favorite piece of literature and there were things I disliked about it - the way David could never bring himself to do the "right thing," the way Norah was unable to control herself through her grief or her failing marriage, and a few strange and unnecessary (in my opinion, anyway) additions to the plot.  But for me, it was worth reading through to the end - even though it took me nearly a month (in the book's defense it has been a chaotic month!) to get through.  I gave it a Goodreads rating of three stars, and I'm looking forward to watching the movie.

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