The Memory Keeper’s Daughter….

… Kim Edwards

From Publishers Weekly
Edwards’s assured but schematic debut novel (after her collection, The Secrets of a Fire King) hinges on the birth of fraternal twins, a healthy boy and a girl with Down syndrome, resulting in the father’s disavowal of his newborn daughter. A snowstorm immobilizes Lexington, Ky., in 1964, and when young Norah Henry goes into labor, her husband, orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Henry, must deliver their babies himself, aided only by a nurse. Seeing his daughter’s handicap, he instructs the nurse, Caroline Gill, to take her to a home and later tells Norah, who was drugged during labor, that their son Paul’s twin died at birth. Instead of institutionalizing Phoebe, Caroline absconds with her to Pittsburgh. David’s deception becomes the defining moment of the main characters’ lives, and Phoebe’s absence corrodes her birth family’s core over the course of the next 25 years. David’s undetected lie warps his marriage; he grapples with guilt; Norah mourns her lost child; and Paul not only deals with his parents’ icy relationship but with his own yearnings for his sister as well. Though the impact of Phoebe’s loss makes sense, Edwards’s redundant handling of the trope robs it of credibility. This neatly structured story is a little too moist with compassion.

People do the damndest things.  And although this story was an interesting and sometimes compelling one,  which began with a truly riveting life-altering incident in the lives of three people, I have to agree with the last couple of sentences in this review.  I just wanted to give a few of the characters a serious shake and tell them to get over themselves already.  I get it – you’re sad, you can’t undo the past.  But hello – you COULD try to let it go.  Life does go on.  There was way too much descriptive narrative for my liking as well, delving way too deeply into setting the scene, getting the ambience just right, making you feel that warm summer breeze, making you hear the wasps buzzing, feel the sand on your hot thighs,  smell the acrid smoke from the photographs burning and blah blah blah.  I felt constantly impatient for the author to just get on with the story.  And for me, the ending was just too neat and contrived.  Schmaltzy comes to mind.  Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for any of it. 

But I did read the entire book.  I wrote this little review.  I admire the author for putting so many words down on paper and trying to get inside so many heads.