Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards

So it's been awhile since I posted about a book. I finished this one quite a while ago but I'm still not sure what to think of it. Let me explain.

"The Memory Keeper's Daughter" is about a couple who had twins in the 60's when modern medicine, and more importantly, Downs Syndrome was largely misunderstood. The couple did not know they were having twins and the husband, being a doctor, actually did the emergency delivery in the middle of a snow storm. The first, a boy, was born perfect and healthy. The second, a girl was born with Downs Syndrome. Without telling the mother (who was under at the time) he made the decision to have the girl sent to a home where others could take care of her. So dad tells mom that the child died at birth and he already had her buried. Mom is mortified at not being able to at least see the child, but does her best to understand. The nurse who was to take the child to the 'center' couldn't do it, takes the child and raises her on her own and tells dad that's she's done so. Dad couldn't ever bring himself to tell mom.

The story continues as husband and wife dad try to make a home while husband hides the truth of the child and wife feels a lack of connection between them and doesn't know how to bridge the gap. It's really quite a sad story.

The book confuses me because it's hard to categorize. It's hard to look and say, "wow, why didn't these people drop the charade and just talk to each other and get it all out." It was a different time. Communication and striving to understand each other is such a key part of any relationship and yet there were these strict social rules that made it difficult to just sit down and talk. In an effort to 'not hurt his wife' the husband never did tell her the truth. Instead he let it drive their marriage apart while he accepted it as penance for having hidden the truth in the first place.

In the bright side, it made me quite happy to know that even if David and I did try to hide something from each other, it wouldn't last for long. We are so very open with each other it's almost appalling! But it works for us.

Overall, I'm not sure that I would recommend this book as anything other than a study of the human spirit and what a secret in a relationship can do. Not uplifting, but perhaps it does help us understand some of what goes on around us.

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