The Memory Keeper's Daughter

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Overview

A #1 New York Times bestseller by Kim Edwards, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is a brilliantly crafted novel of parallel lives, familial secrets, and the redemptive power of love

Kim Edwards’s stunning novel begins on a winter night in 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect...

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Overview

A #1 New York Times bestseller by Kim Edwards, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is a brilliantly crafted novel of parallel lives, familial secrets, and the redemptive power of love

Kim Edwards’s stunning novel begins on a winter night in 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down 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, Caroline, to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. 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 winter night long ago.

A family drama, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter explores every mother's silent fear: What would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you? It is also an astonishing tale of love and how the mysterious ties that hold a family together help us survive the heartache that occurs when long-buried secrets are finally uncovered.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
We have a confession to make. At the Discover program, we have a rule against "discovering" an author twice. But somehow, when it came to Kim Edwards's first novel, literary amnesia set in and we promptly forgot that eight years ago, we'd discovered her debut short-story collection, The Secrets of a Fire King. A Freudian slip? Perhaps, as her new book is all about memory…

"Photography is all about secrets," says David Henry. "The secrets we all have and will never tell." The price we pay for such secrets is what drives the action Edwards's wholly absorbing novel. It opens during a snowstorm in 1962, when David's young wife, Norah, goes into labor prematurely. When the storm prevents her obstetrician from attending the birth, David and his nurse, Caroline, must handle it themselves. Caroline puts Norah to sleep -- a standard practice then -- and David delivers an unanticipated set of twins. The baby boy is healthy; the second child, a baby girl, has Down syndrome.

Haunted by the memory of growing up with a chronically ill sister, David makes a split-second decision. He asks Caroline to take his infant daughter to an institution, and when Norah wakes, he tells her that the second child was stillborn. The right decision? Clearly not, yet David fervently believes he's chosen the best course of action. But his decision has a ripple effect that will last throughout his life, touching the lives of others.

A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Edwards has written a novel both delightful and sad. Spanning 25 years, The Memory Keeper's Daughter carries the powerful message that regardless of what we do, our past never stops haunting our future. (Fall 2005 Selection)
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. Agent, Geri Thoma. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This is a haunting, tragic, and distressing family tale, an enthralling page-turner primarily because it centers on an abysmal act by one individual that affects everyone for whom he cares. David Henry leads the perfect life; he's an orthopedic surgeon married to a wonderful, beautiful woman. It is 1964, and there's a terrible snowstorm in Lexington, KY, when his wife goes into labor. The bad weather keeps Norah's ob/gyn from making it to the hospital, so her husband, along with his nurse, Caroline Gill, decides to deliver the baby in his clinic. Under sedation, Norah gives birth to a healthy boy. As David is thrilled by the birth of his son, Norah starts to have more contractions. He quickly sedates her again, and she gives birth to a girl with Down syndrome. Wanting to protect Norah and feeling she would not be able to cope with a mentally challenged child, David gives the baby to Caroline and asks her to place her in an institution and never reveal their secret. The novel, read by Martha Plimpton, is told through different characters' points of view, moving from one person's thoughts to another, always keeping the secret at the center of the story. The Memory Keeper's Daughter, while ultimately hopeful, tells much of the dark side of human understanding and relationships. Recommended.-Carol Stern, Glen Cove P.L., NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
One well-intentioned lie causes deep fissures in a family. David Henry had a hard childhood in West Virginia. His family was dirt poor and his sister June, always sickly, died of a heart defect at 12. Vowing to do good, David left home to become an orthopedic surgeon in Lexington, Ky. He's 33 when he meets Norah Asher in a department store. The year is 1964, and it's love at first sight. David delivers his and Norah's own twins-a boy (Paul) who's fine, and a girl (Phoebe) who is damaged with Down's syndrome. Hoping to spare her the pain he underwent with his sister, David tells Norah that the girl is stillborn and instructs his nurse, Caroline, to deliver the infant to an institution. Secretly in love with David, Caroline, who is shocked by his subterfuge and shocked again by the grim shelter, decides to move away and raise Phoebe on her own. Over the next 25 years, parallel stories unfold. In Lexington, the loss of the supposedly dead baby corrodes David and Norah's marriage. Neither they nor son Paul can be warmed by life together, each keeping busy with pet projects. In Pittsburgh, meanwhile, Caroline lands on her feet, securing a good job and a good man, and raising Phoebe with a fierce devotion. Unfortunately, after its fast and sure-footed start, the story sags: Edwards insists heavy-handedly on the consequences of David's lie but fails to deliver any true catharsis, and when David does confess, it's not to Norah. Visiting his childhood home, he is surprised by a squatter, a pregnant runaway of 16 who ties him up-and his story tumbles out. It's a bold scene, rekindling the excitement of the start yet remaining a solitary flash in a humdrum progression. When the family finally learnsthe truth, the impact is minimal. First-novelist Edwards (stories: The Secrets of a Fire King, 1997) excels at celebrating a quiet wholesomeness but stumbles over her storyline.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143037149
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/30/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 77,773
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Kim Edwards

Kim Edwards is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which was translated into thirty-eight languages.  She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling novel, The Lake of Dreams, and a collection of short stories, The Secrets of a Fire King.  Her honors include the Whiting Award, the British Book Award, and USA Todays Book of the Year, as well as the Nelson Algren Award, a National Magazine Award, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has taught widely in the US and Asia, and currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Biography

In the late ‘90s, Edwards was making a major splash on the literary scene. Her recently published short story collection would soon be pegged for a Whiting Award and the Nelson Algren Award, and would also be an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Around this charmed time, Edwards heard a story that would ultimately propel her toward a career as a bestselling novelist.

"A few months after my story collection, The Secrets of a Fire King, was published, one of the pastors of the Presbyterian church I'd recently joined said she had a story to give me," she explained in an interview on the Penguin Group web site. "It was just a few sentences, about a man who'd discovered late in life that his brother had been born with Down syndrome, placed in an institution at birth, and kept a secret from his family, even from his own mother, all his life. He'd died in that institution, unknown. I remember being struck by the story even as she told it, and thinking right away that it really would make a good novel. It was the secret at the center of the family that intrigued me. Still, in the very next heartbeat, I thought: Of course, I'll never write that book."

Despite Edwards's quick dismissal of the idea, it would not unhand her. She let several years slip by without going to work on the story, but she never forgot it. When she was invited to run a writing workshop for mentally disabled adults, the experience affected Edwards so profoundly that she started mulling over the pastor's story more seriously. It would be another year before Edwards actually began working on The Memory Keeper's Daughter, but once she did, she found that it came quickly and surprisingly well-developed.

In The Memory Keeper's Daughter, a man named David discovers that his newly born son is in fine health, but the child's twin sister is stricken with Down Syndrome. So, the distraught father, who harbors painful memories of his own sister's chronic illness, makes a quick but incredibly difficult decision: he asks the attending nurse to take his daughter to an institution where she might receive better care. Although he tells his wife that the child was stillborn, David's decision goes on to affect the lives of himself and his wife for the following 25 years.

Haunting, dramatic, and moving, The Memory Keeper's Daughter went on to become a big seller and a critical favorite. The Library Journal hailed it as "an enthralling page-turner" and Kirkus reviews declared that Edwards "excels at celebrating a quiet wholesomeness..."

Now that Edwards has broken into novel-writing in a big way, she is hard at work on her follow up to her smash debut. "I have begun a new novel, called The Dream Master," she says. "It's set in the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York where I grew up, which is stunningly beautiful, and which remains in some real sense the landscape of my imagination. Like The Memory Keeper's Daughter, this new novel turns on the idea of a secret -- that seems to be my preoccupation as a writer -- though in this case the event occurred in the past and is a secret from the reader as well as from the characters, so structurally, and in its thematic concerns, the next book is an entirely new discovery."

Good To Know

Although Edwards had been interested in writing ever since she was a little girl, she didn't actually write her first story "Cords" until she was in a fiction workshop while attending Colgate University.

Among the many fans that Edwards has won with The Memory Keeper's Daughter is beloved novelist Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees), who said of Edwards's first novel, "I loved this riveting story with its intricate characters and beautiful language."

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Edwards:

"My first job was in a nursing home -- a terrible place in retrospect. It was in an old house, and the residents were so lonely. People rarely visited them. I only stayed there a couple of months, but it made a strong impression on me. Just before I left I went to get one woman for dinner, and discovered that she had died -- a powerful experience when you're 17."

"Though my stories aren't autobiographical, I do sometimes use things from my life. ‘The Way It Felt to be Falling,' a story from my collection The Secrets of a Fire King, uses sky-diving as a metaphor. Like my character, I did jump out of the first plane I ever flew in. It was an amazing experience, but I've never had the urge to do it again."

"One of my greatest times of inspiration is when I'm traveling or living in a new country-there's a tremendous freedom that comes from being unfettered by your own, familiar culture, and by seeing the world from a different point of view. "

"I love to swim, and I love being near water.

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    1. Hometown:
      Lexington, Kentucky
    1. Date of Death:
      1958
    1. Education:
      A.A., Cayuga Community College; B.A., Colgate University; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop; M.A., University of Iowa
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

1964
March 1964
I

THE SNOW STARTED TO FALL SEVERAL HOURS BEFORE HER labor began. A few flakes first, in the dull gray late-afternoon sky, and then wind-driven swirls and eddies around the edges of their wide front porch. He stood by her side at the window, watching sharp gusts of snow billow, then swirl and drift to the ground. All around the neighborhood, lights came on, and the naked branches of the trees turned white.

After dinner he built a fire, venturing out into the weather for wood he had piled against the garage the previous autumn. The air was bright and cold against his face, and the snow in the driveway was already halfway to his knees. He gathered logs, shaking off their soft white caps and carrying them inside. The kindling in the iron grate caught fire immediately, and he sat for a time on the hearth, cross-legged, adding logs and watching the flames leap, blue-edged and hypnotic. Outside, snow continued to fall quietly through the darkness, as bright and thick as static in the cones of light cast by the streetlights. By the time he rose and looked out the window, their car had become a soft white hill on the edge of the street. Already his footprints in the driveway had filled and disappeared.

He brushed ashes from his hands and sat on the sofa beside his wife, her feet propped on pillows, her swollen ankles crossed, a copy of Dr. Spock balanced on her belly. Absorbed, she licked her index finger absently each time she turned a page. Her hands were slender, her fingers short and sturdy, and she bit her bottom lip lightly, intently, as she read. Watching her, he felt a surge of love and wonder: that she was his wife, that their baby, due in just three weeks, would soon be born. Their first child, this would be. They had been married just a year.

She looked up, smiling, when he tucked the blanket around her legs.

"You know, I've been wondering what it's like," she said. "Before we're born, I mean. It's too bad we can't remember." She opened her robe and pulled up the sweater she wore underneath, revealing a belly as round and hard as a melon. She ran her hand across its smooth surface, firelight playing across her skin, casting reddish gold onto her hair. "Do you suppose it's like being inside a great lantern? The book says light permeates my skin, that the baby can already see."

"I don't know," he said.

She laughed. "Why not?" she asked. "You're the doctor."

"I'm just an orthopedic surgeon," he reminded her. "I could tell you the ossification pattern for fetal bones, but that's about it." He lifted her foot, both delicate and swollen inside the light blue sock, and began to massage it gently: the powerful tarsal bone of her heel, the metatarsals and the phalanges, hidden beneath skin and densely layered muscles like a fan about to open. Her breathing filled the quiet room, her foot warmed his hands, and he imagined the perfect, secret, symmetry of bones. In pregnancy she seemed to him beautiful but fragile, fine blue veins faintly visible through her pale white skin.

It had been an excellent pregnancy, without medical restrictions. Even so, he had not been able to make love to her for several months. He found himself wanting to protect her instead, to carry her up flights of stairs, to wrap her in blankets, to bring her cups of custard. "I'm not an invalid," she protested each time, laughing. "I'm not some fledgling you discovered on the lawn." Still, she was pleased by his attentions. Sometimes he woke and watched her as she slept: the flutter of her eyelids, the slow even movement of her chest, her outflung hand, small enough that he could enclose it completely with his own.

She was eleven years younger than he was. He had first seen her not much more than a year ago, as she rode up an escalator in a department store downtown, one gray November Saturday while he was buying ties. He was thirty-three years old and new to Lexington, Kentucky, and she had risen out of the crowd like some kind of vision, her blond hair swept back in an elegant chignon, pearls glimmering at her throat and on her ears. She was wearing a coat of dark green wool, and her skin was clear and pale. He stepped onto the escalator, pushing his way upward through the crowd, struggling to keep her in sight. She went to the fourth floor, lingerie and hosiery. When he tried to follow her through aisles dense with racks of slips and brassieres and panties, all glimmering softly, a sales clerk in a navy blue dress with a white collar stopped him, smiling, to ask if she could help. A robe, he said, scanning the aisles until he caught sight of her hair, a dark green shoulder, her bent head revealing the elegant pale curve of her neck. A robe for my sister who lives in New Orleans. He had no sister, of course, or any living family that he acknowledged.

The clerk disappeared and came back a moment later with three robes in sturdy terry cloth. He chose blindly, hardly glancing down, taking the one on top. Three sizes, the clerk was saying, and a better selection of colors next month, but he was already in the aisle, a coral-colored robe draped over his arm, his shoes squeaking on the tiles as he moved impatiently between the other shoppers to where she stood.

She was shuffling through the stacks of expensive stockings, sheer colors shining through slick cellophane windows: taupe, navy, a maroon as dark as pig's blood. The sleeve of her green coat brushed his and he smelled her perfume, something delicate and yet pervasive, something like the dense pale petals of lilacs outside the window of the student rooms he'd once occupied in Pittsburgh. The squat windows of his basement apartment were always grimy, opaque with steel-factory soot and ash, but in the spring there were lilacs blooming, sprays of white and lavender pressing against the glass, their scent drifting in like light.

He cleared his throat—he could hardly breathe—and held up the terry cloth robe, but the clerk behind the counter was laughing, telling a joke, and she did not notice him. When he cleared his throat again she glanced at him, annoyed, then nodded at her customer, now holding three thin packages of stockings like giant playing cards in her hand.

"I'm afraid Miss Asher was here first," the clerk said, cool and haughty.

Their eyes met then, and he was startled to see they were the same dark green as her coat. She was taking him in—the solid tweed overcoat, his face clean-shaven and flushed with cold, his trim fingernails. She smiled, amused and faintly dismissive, gesturing to the robe on his arm.

"For your wife?" she asked. She spoke with what he recognized as a genteel Kentucky accent, in this city of old money where such distinctions mattered. After just six months in town, he already knew this. "It's all right, Jean," she went on, turning back to the clerk. "Go on and take him first. This poor man must feel lost and awkward, in here with all the lace." "It's for my sister," he told her, desperate to reverse the bad impression he was making. It had happened to him often here; he was too forward or direct and gave offense. The robe slipped to the floor and he bent to pick it up, his face flushing as he rose. Her gloves were lying on the glass, her bare hands folded lightly next to them. His discomfort seemed to soften her, for when he met her eyes again, they were kind.

He tried again. "I'm sorry. I don't seem to know what I'm doing. And I'm in a hurry. I'm a doctor. I'm late to the hospital."

Her smiled changed then, grew serious.

"I see," she said, turning back to the clerk. "Really, Jean, do take him first."

She agreed to see him again, writing her name and phone number in the perfect script she'd been taught in third grade, her teacher an ex-nun who had engraved the rules of penmanship in her small charges. Each letter has a shape, she told them, one shape in the world and no other, and it is your responsibility to make it perfect. Eight years old, pale and skinny, the woman in the green coat who would become his wife had clenched her small fingers around the pen and practiced cursive writing alone in her room, hour after hour, until she wrote with the exquisite fluidity of running water. Later, listening to that story, he would imagine her head bent beneath the lamplight, her fingers in a painful cluster around the pen, and he would wonder at her tenacity, her belief in beauty and in the authoritative voice of the ex-nun. But on that day he did not know any of this. On that day he carried the slip of paper in the pocket of his white coat through one sickroom after another, remembering her letters flowing one into another to form the perfect shape of her name. He phoned her that same evening and took her to dinner the next night, and three months later they were married.

Now, in these last months of her pregnancy, the soft coral robe fit her perfectly. She had found it packed away and had held it up to show him. But your sister died so long ago, she exclaimed, suddenly puzzled, and for an instant he had frozen, smiling, the lie from a year before darting like a dark bird through the room. Then he shrugged, sheepish. I had to say something, he told her. I had to find a way to get your name. She smiled then, and crossed the room and embraced him.

The snow fell. For the next few hours, they read and talked. Sometimes she caught his hand and put it on her belly to feel the baby move. From time to time he got up to feed the fire, glancing out the window to see three inches on the ground, then five or six. The streets were softened and quiet, and there were few cars.

At eleven she rose and went to bed. He stayed downstairs, reading the latest issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. He was known to be a very good doctor, with a talent for diagnosis and a reputation for skillful work. He had graduated first in his class.

Still, he was young enough and—though he hid it very carefully— unsure enough about his skills that he studied in every spare moment, collecting each success he accomplished as one more piece of evidence in his own favor. He felt himself to be an aberration, born with a love for learning in a family absorbed in simply scrambling to get by, day to day. They had seen education as an unnecessary luxury, a means to no certain end. Poor, when they went to the doctor at all it was to the clinic in Morgantown, fifty miles away. His memories of those rare trips were vivid, bouncing in the back of the borrowed pickup truck, dust flying in their wake. The dancing road, his sister had called it, from her place in the cab with their parents. In Morgantown the rooms were dim, the murky green or turquoise of pond water, and the doctors had been hurried, brisk with them, distracted.

All these years later, he still had moments when he sensed the gaze of those doctors and felt himself to be an imposter, about to be unmasked by a single mistake. He knew his choice of specialties reflected this. Not for him the random excitement of general medicine or the delicate risky plumbing of the heart. He dealt mostly with broken limbs, sculpting casts and viewing X-rays, watching breaks slowly yet miraculously knit themselves back together. He liked that bones were solid things, surviving even the white heat of cremation. Bones would last; it was easy for him to put his faith in something so solid and predictable.

He read well past midnight, until the words shimmered senselessly on the bright white pages, and then he tossed the journal on the coffee table and got up to tend to the fire. He tamped the charred fire-laced logs into embers, opened the damper fully, and closed the brass fireplace screen. When he turned off the lights, shards of fire glowed softly through layers of ash as delicate and white as the snow piled so high now on the porch railings and the rhododendron bushes.

The stairs creaked with his weight. He paused by the nursery door, studying the shadowy shapes of the crib and the changing table, the stuffed animals arranged on shelves. The walls were painted a pale sea green. His wife had made the Mother Goose quilt that hung on the far wall, sewing with tiny stitches, tearing out entire panels if she noted the slightest imperfection. A border of bears was stenciled just below the ceiling; she had done that too. On an impulse he went into the room and stood before the window, pushing aside the sheer curtain to watch the snow, now nearly eight inches high on the lampposts and the fences and the roofs. It was the sort of storm that rarely happened in Lexington, and the steady white flakes, the silence, filled him with a sense of excitement and peace. It was a moment when all the disparate shards of his life seemed to knit themselves together, every past sadness and disappointment, every anxious secret and uncertainty hidden now beneath the soft white layers. Tomorrow would be quiet, the world subdued and fragile, until the neighborhood children came out to break the stillness with their tracks and shouts and joy. He remembered such days from his own childhood in the mountains, rare moments of escape when he went into the woods, his breathing amplified and his voice somehow muffled by the heavy snow that bent branches low, drifted over paths. The world, for a few short hours, transformed.

He stood there for a long time, until he heard her moving quietly. He found her sitting on the edge of their bed, her head bent, her hands gripping the mattress.

"I think this is labor," she said, looking up. Her hair was loose, a strand caught on her lip. He brushed it back behind her ear. She shook her head as he sat beside her. "I don't know. I feel strange. This crampy feeling, it comes and goes."

He helped her lie down on her side and then he lay down too, massaging her back. "It's probably just false labor," he assured her. "It's three weeks early, after all, and first babies are usually late." This was true, he knew, he believed it as he spoke, and he was, in fact, so sure of it that after a time he drifted into sleep. He woke to find her standing over the bed, shaking his shoulder. Her robe, her hair, looked nearly white in the strange snowy light that filled their room.

"I've been timing them. Five minutes apart. They're strong, and I'm scared."

He felt an inner surge then; excitement and fear tumbled through him like foam pushed by a wave. But he had been trained to be calm in emergencies, to keep his emotions in check, so he was able to stand without any urgency, take the watch, and walk with her, slowly and calmly, up and down the hall. When the contractions came she squeezed his hand so hard he felt as if the bones in his fingers might fuse. The contractions were as she had said, five minutes apart, then four. He took the suitcase from the closet, feeling numb suddenly with the momentousness of these events, long expected but a surprise all the same. He moved, as she did, but the world slowed to stillness around them. He was acutely aware of every action, the way breath rushed against his tongue, the way her feet slid uncomfortably into the only shoes she could still wear, her swollen flesh making a ridge against the dark gray leather. When he took her arm he felt strangely as if he himself were suspended in the room, somewhere near the light fixture, watching them both from above, noting every nuance and detail: how she trembled with a contraction, how his fingers closed so firmly and protectively around her elbow. How outside, still, the snow was drifting down. He helped her into her green wool coat, which hung unbuttoned, gaping around her belly. He found the leather gloves she'd been wearing when he first saw her, too. It seemed important that these details be right. They stood together on the porch for a moment, stunned by the soft white world.

"Wait here," he said, and went down the steps, breaking a path through the drifts. The doors of the old car were frozen, and it took him several minutes to get one open. A white cloud flew up, glittering, when the door at last swung back, and he scrambled on the floor of the backseat for the ice scraper and brush. When he emerged his wife was leaning against a porch pillar, her forehead on her arms. He understood in that moment both how much pain she was in and that the baby was really coming, coming that very night. He resisted a powerful urge to go to her and, instead, put all his energy into freeing the car, warming first one bare hand and then the other beneath his armpits when the pain of the cold became too great, warming them but never pausing, brushing snow from the windshield and the windows and the hood, watching it scatter and disappear into the soft sea of white around his calves.

"You didn't mention it would hurt this much," she said, when he reached the porch. He put his arm around her shoulders and helped her down the steps. "I can walk," she insisted. "It's just when the pain comes."

"I know," he said, but he did not let her go.

When they reached the car she touched his arm and gestured to the house, veiled with snow and glowing like a lantern in the darkness of the street.

"When we come back we'll have our baby with us," she said. "Our world will never be the same."

The windshield wipers were frozen, and snow spilled down the back window when he pulled into the street. He drove slowly, thinking how beautiful Lexington was, the trees and bushes so heavy with snow. When he turned onto the main street the wheels hit ice and the car slid, briefly, fluidly, across the intersection, coming to rest by a snowbank. "We're fine," he announced, his head rushing. Fortunately, there wasn't another car in sight. The steering wheel was as hard and cold as stone beneath his bare hands. Now and then he wiped at the windshield with the back of his hand, leaning to peer through the hole he'd made. "I called Bentley before we left," he said, naming his colleague, an obstetrician. "I said to meet us at the office. We'll go there. It's closer."

She was silent for a moment, her hand gripping the dashboard as she breathed through a contraction. "As long as I don't have my baby in this old car," she managed at last, trying to joke. "You know how much I've always hated it."

He smiled, but he knew her fear was real, and he shared it. Methodical, purposeful: even in an emergency he could not change his nature. He came to a full stop at every light, signaled turns to the empty streets. Every few minutes she braced one hand against the dashboard again and focused her breathing, which made him swallow and glance sideways at her, more nervous on that night than he could ever remember being. More nervous than his in first anatomy class, the body of a young boy peeled open to reveal its secrets. More nervous than on his wedding day, her family filling one side of the church, and on the other just a handful of his colleagues. His parents were dead, his sister too.

There was a single car in the clinic parking lot, the nurse's powder-blue Fairlane, conservative and pragmatic and newer than his own. He'd called her, too. He pulled up in front of the entrance and helped his wife out. Now that they had reached the office safely they were both exhilarated, laughing as they pushed into the bright lights of the waiting room.

The nurse met them. The moment he saw her, he knew something was wrong. She had large blue eyes in a pale face that might have been forty or twenty-five, and whenever something was not to her liking a thin vertical line formed across her forehead, just between her eyes. It was there now as she gave them her news: Bentley's car had fishtailed on the unplowed country road where he lived, spun around twice on the ice beneath the snow, and floated into a ditch.

"You're saying Dr. Bentley won't be coming?" his wife asked. The nurse nodded. She was tall, so thin and angular it seemed the bones might poke from beneath her skin at any moment. Her large blue eyes were solemn and intelligent. For months, there had been rumors, jokes, that she was a little bit in love with him. He had dismissed them as idle office gossip, annoying but natural when a man and single woman worked in such close proximity, day after day. And then one evening he had fallen asleep at his desk. He'd been dreaming, back in his childhood home, his mother putting up jars of fruit that gleamed jewel-like on the oilcloth-covered table beneath the window. His sister, age five, sat holding a doll in one listless hand. A passing image, perhaps a memory, but one that filled him simultaneously with sadness and with yearning. The house was his but empty now, deserted when his sister died and his parents moved away, the rooms his mother had scrubbed to a dull gleam abandoned, filled only with the rustlings of squirrels and mice.

He'd had tears in his eyes when he opened them, raising his head from the desk. The nurse was standing in the doorway, her face gentled by emotion. She was beautiful in that moment, half smiling, not at all the efficient woman who worked beside him so quietly and competently each day. Their eyes met, and it seemed to the doctor that he knew her—that they knew each other—in some profound and certain way. For an instant nothing whatsoever stood between them; it was an intimacy of such magnitude that he was motionless, transfixed. Then she blushed severely and looked aside.

She cleared her throat and straightened, saying that she had worked two hours overtime and would be going. For many days, her eyes would not meet his.

After that, when people teased him about her, he made them stop. She's a very fine nurse, he would say, holding up one hand against the jokes, honoring that moment of communion they had shared. She's the best I've ever worked with. This was true, and now he was very glad to have her with him.

"How about the emergency room?" she asked. "Could you make it?"

The doctor shook his head. The contractions were just a minute or so apart.

"This baby won't wait," he said, looking at his wife. Snow had melted in her hair and glittered like a diamond tiara. "This baby's on its way."

"It's all right," his wife said, stoic. Her voice was harder now, determined. "This will be a better story to tell him, growing up: him or her."

The nurse smiled, the line still visible though fainter, between her eyes. "Let's get you inside then," she said. "Let's get you some help with the pain."

He went into his own office to find a coat, and when he entered Bentley's examination room his wife was lying on the bed, her feet in the stirrups. The room was pale blue, filled with chrome and white enamel and fine instruments of gleaming steel. The doctor went to the sink and washed his hands. He felt extremely alert, aware of the tiniest details, and as he performed this ordinary ritual he felt his panic at Bentley's absence begin to ease. He closed his eyes, forcing himself to focus on his task.

"Everything's progressing," the nurse said, when he turned. "Everything looks fine. I'd put her at ten centimeters; see what you think."

He sat on the low stool and reached up into the soft warm cave of his wife's body. The amniotic sac was still intact, and through it he could feel the baby's head, smooth and hard like a baseball. His child. He should be pacing a waiting room somewhere. Across the room, the blinds were closed on the only window, and as he pulled his hand from the warmth of his wife's body he found himself wondering about the snow, if it was falling still, silencing the city and the land beyond.

"Yes," he said, "ten centimeters."

"Phoebe," his wife said. He could not see her face, but her voice was clear. They had been discussing names for months and had reached no decisions. "For a girl, Phoebe. And for a boy, Paul, after my great-uncle. Did I tell you this?" she asked. "I meant to tell you I'd decided."

"Those are good names," the nurse said, soothing.

"Phoebe and Paul," the doctor repeated, but he was concentrating on the contraction now rising in his wife's flesh. He gestured to the nurse, who readied the gas. During his residency years, the practice had been to put the woman in labor out completely until the birth was over, but times had changed—it was 1964—and Bentley, he knew, used gas more selectively. Better that she should be awake to push; he would put her out for the worst of the contractions, for the crowning and the birth. His wife tensed and cried out, and the baby moved in the birth canal, bursting the amniotic sac. "Now," the doctor said, and the nurse put the mask in place. His wife's hands relaxed, her fists unclenching as the gas took effect, and she lay still, tranquil and unknowing, as another contraction and another moved through her.

"It's coming fast for a first baby," the nurse observed.

"Yes," the doctor said. "So far so good."

Half an hour passed in this way. His wife roused and moaned and pushed, and when he felt she had had enough—or when she cried out that the pain was overwhelming—he nodded to the nurse, who gave her the gas. Except for the quiet exchange of instructions, they did not speak. Outside the snow kept falling, drifting along the sides of houses, filling the roads. The doctor sat on a stainless steel chair, narrowing his concentration to the essential facts. He had delivered five babies during medical school, all live births and all successful, and he focused now on those, seeking in his memory the details of care. As he did so, his wife, lying with her feet in the stirrups and her belly rising so high that he could not see her face, slowly became one with those other women. Her round knees, her smooth narrow calves, her ankles, all these were before him, familiar and beloved. Yet he did not think to stroke her skin or put a reassuring hand on her knee. It was the nurse who held her hand while she pushed. To the doctor, focused on what was immediately before him, she became not just herself but more than herself; a body like other bodies, a patient whose needs he must meet with every technical skill he had. It was necessary, more necessary than usual, to keep his emotions in check. As time passed, the strange moment he had experienced in their bedroom came to him again. He began to feel as if he were somehow removed from the scene of this birth, both there and also floating elsewhere, observing from some safe distance. He watched himself make the careful, precise incision for the episiotomy. A good one, he thought, as the blood welled in a clean line, not letting himself remember the times he'd touched that same flesh in passion.

The head crowned. In three more pushes it emerged, and then the body slid into his waiting hands and the baby cried out, its blue skin pinking up.

It was a boy, red-faced and dark-haired, his eyes alert, suspicious of the lights and the cold bright slap of air. The doctor tied the umbilical cord and cut it. My son, he allowed himself to think. My son. "He's beautiful," the nurse said. She waited while he examined the child, noting his steady heart, rapid and sure, the long-fingered hands and shock of dark hair. Then she took the infant to the other room to bathe him and to drop the silver nitrate into his eyes. The small cries drifted back to them, and his wife stirred. The doctor stayed where he was with his hand on her knee, taking several deep breaths, awaiting the afterbirth. My son, he thought again.

"Where is the baby?" his wife asked, opening her eyes and pushing hair away from her flushed face. "Is everything all right?"

"It's a boy," the doctor said, smiling down at her. "We have a son. You'll see him as soon as he's clean. He's absolutely perfect."

His wife's face, soft with relief and exhaustion, suddenly tightened with another contraction, and the doctor, expecting the afterbirth, returned to the stool between her legs and pressed lightly against her abdomen. She cried out, and at the same moment he understood what was happening, as startled as if a window had appeared suddenly in a concrete wall.

"It's all right," he said. "Everything's fine. Nurse," he called, as the next contraction tightened.

She came at once, carrying the baby, now swaddled in white blankets.

"He's a nine on the Apgar," she announced. "That's very good."

His wife lifted her arms for the baby and began to speak, but then the pain caught her and she lay back down. "Nurse?" the doctor said, "I need you here. Right now."

After a moment's confusion the nurse put two pillows on the floor, placed the baby on them, and joined the doctor by the table. "More gas," he said. He saw her surprise and then her quick nod of comprehension as she complied. His hand was on his wife's knee; he felt the tension ease from her muscles as the gas worked. "Twins?" the nurse asked.

The doctor, who had allowed himself to relax after the boy was born, felt shaky now, and he did not trust himself to do more than nod. Steady, he told himself, as the next head crowned. You are anywhere, he thought, watching from some fine point on the ceiling as his hands worked with method and precision. This is any birth. This baby was smaller and came easily, sliding so quickly into his gloved hands that he leaned forward, using his chest to make sure it did not fall. "It's a girl," he said, and cradled her like a football, face down, tapping her back until she cried out. Then he turned her over to see her face.

Creamy white vernix whorled in her delicate skin, and she was slippery with amniotic fluid and traces of blood. The blue eyes were cloudy, the hair jet black, but he barely noticed all of this. What he was looking at were the unmistakable features, the eyes turned up as if with laughter, the epicanthal fold across their lids, the flattened nose. A classic case, he remembered his professor saying as they examined a similar child, years ago. A mongoloid. Do you know what that means? And the doctor, dutiful, had recited the symptoms he'd memorized from the text: flaccid muscle tone, delayed growth and mental development, possible heart complications, early death. The professor had nodded, placing his stethoscope on the baby's smooth bare chest. Poor kid. There's nothing they can do except try to keep him clean. They ought to spare themselves and send him to a home. The doctor had felt transported back in time. His sister had been born with a heart defect and had grown very slowly, her breath catching and coming in little gasps whenever she tried to run. For many years, until the first trip to the clinic in Morgantown, they had not known what was the matter. Then they knew, and there was nothing they could do. All his mother's attention had gone to her, and yet she had died when she was twelve years old. The doctor had been sixteen, already living in town to attend high school, already on his way to Pittsburgh and medical school and the life he was living now. Still, he remembered the depth and endurance of his mother's grief, the way she walked up hill to the grave every morning, her arms folded against whatever weather she encountered.

The nurse stood beside him and studied the baby.

"I'm sorry, doctor," she said.

He held the infant, forgetting what he ought to do next. Her tiny hands were perfect. But the gap between her big toes and the others, that was there, like a missing tooth, and when he looked deeply at her eyes he saw the Brushfield spots, as tiny and distinct as flecks of snow in the irises. He imagined her heart, the size of a plum and very possibly defective, and he thought of the nursery, so carefully painted, with its soft animals and single crib. He thought of his wife standing on the sidewalk before their brightly veiled home, saying, Our world will never be the same.

The baby's hand brushed his, and he started. Without volition he began to move through the familiar patterns. He cut the cord and checked her heart, her lungs. All the time he was thinking of the snow, the silver car floating into a ditch, the deep quiet of this empty clinic. Later, when he considered this night—and he would think of it often, in the months and years to come: the turning point of his life, the moments around which everything else would always gather—what he remembered was the silence in the room and the snow falling steadily outside. The silence was so deep and encompassing that he felt himself floating to a new height, some point above this room and then beyond, where he was one with the snow and where this scene in the room was something unfolding in a different life, a life at which he was a random spectator, like a scene glimpsed through a warmly lit window while walking on a darkened street. That was what he would remember, that feeling of endless space. The doctor in the ditch, and the lights of his own house burning far away.

"All right. Clean her up, please," he said, releasing the slight weight of the infant into the nurse's arms. "But keep her in the other room. I don't want my wife to know. Not right away." The nurse nodded. She disappeared and then came back to lift his son into the baby carrier they'd brought. The doctor was by then intent on delivering the placentas, which came out beautifully, dark and thick, each the size of a small plate. Fraternal twins, male and female, one visibly perfect and the other marked by an extra chromosome in every cell of her body. What were the odds of that? His son lay in the carrier, his hands waving now and then, fluid and random with the quick water motions of the womb. He injected his wife with a sedative, then leaned down to repair the episiotomy. It was nearly dawn, light gathering faintly in the windows. He watched his hands move, thinking how well the stitches were going in, as tiny as her own, as neat and even. She had torn out a whole panel of the quilt because of one mistake, invisible to him.

When the doctor finished, he found the nurse sitting in a rocker in the waiting room, cradling the baby girl in her arms. She met his gaze without speaking, and he remembered the night she had watched him as he slept.

"There's a place," he said, writing the name and address on the back of an envelope. "I'd like you to take her there. When it's light, I mean. I'll issue the birth certificate, and I'll call to say you're coming."

"But your wife," the nurse said, and he heard, from his distant place, the surprise and disapproval in her voice.

He thought of his sister, pale and thin, trying to catch her breath, and his mother turning to the window to hide her tears.

"Don't you see?" he asked, his voice soft. "This poor child will most likely have a serious heart defect. A fatal one. I'm trying to spare us all a terrible grief."

He spoke with conviction. He believed his own words. The nurse sat staring at him, her expression surprised but otherwise unreadable, as he waited for her to say yes. In the state of mind he was in it did not occur to him that she might say anything else. He did not imagine, as he would later that night, and in many nights to come, the ways in which he was jeopardizing everything. Instead, he felt impatient with her slowness and very tired all of a sudden, and the clinic, so familiar, seemed strange around him, as if he were walking in a dream. The nurse studied him with her blue unreadable eyes. He returned her gaze, unflinching, and at last she nodded, a movement so slight as to be almost imperceptible.

"The snow," she murmured, looking down.

But by midmorning the storm had begun to abate, and the distant sounds of plows grated through the still air. He watched from the upstairs window as the nurse knocked snow from her powder-blue car and drove off into the soft white world. The baby was hidden, asleep in a box lined with blankets, on the seat beside her. The doctor watched her turn left onto the street and disappear. Then he went back and sat with his family.

His wife slept, her gold hair splayed across the pillow. Now and then the doctor dozed. Awake, he gazed into the empty parking lot, watching smoke rise from the chimneys across the street, preparing the words he would say. That it was no one's fault, that their daughter would be in good hands, with others like herself, with ceaseless care. That it would be best this way for them all.

In the late morning, when the snow had stopped for good, his son cried out in hunger, and his wife woke up.

"Where's the baby?" she said, rising up on her elbows, pushing her hair from her face. He was holding their son, warm and light, and he sat down beside her, settling the baby in her arms.

"Hello, my sweet," he said. "Look at our beautiful son. You were very brave."

She kissed the baby's forehead, then undid her robe and put him to her breast. His son latched on at once, and his wife looked up and smiled. He took her free hand, remembering how hard she had held onto him, imprinting the bones of her fingers on his flesh. He remembered how much he had wanted to protect her.

"Is everything all right?" she asked. "Darling? What is it?"

"We had twins," he told her slowly, thinking of the shocks of dark hair, the slippery bodies moving in his hands. Tears rose in his eyes. "One of each."

"Oh," she said. "A little girl too? Phoebe and Paul. But where is she?"

Her fingers were so slight, he thought, like the bones of a little bird.

"My darling," he began. His voice broke, and the words he had rehearsed so carefully were gone. He closed his eyes, and when he could speak again more words came, unplanned.

"Oh, my love," he said. "I am so sorry. Our little daughter died as she was born."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 813 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 813 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2008

    What type of book are you looking for?

    I've read a lot of people being disappointed in this book and then some who loved it. It all depends on what your looking for. The book was not what I was looking for but it was still a good book. I read to escape every day life and disappointments and this book puts you in real life. It was very sad and depressing to see how lies and regrets will affect your future. I was crying by the time the book was done. Don't get me wrong its a good story but very sad and depressing.

    14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2008

    I Hated It

    Wow, where do I start? This book was incredibly dull, and I dreaded having to read it, but I was determined to finish it, hoping that it would finally get interesting. What a letdown. It started off very good and then as the years progressed, and Norah kept whining about the loss of a child that she didn't even know she had, mind you - she had no clue she even had a second child until her husband told her - I could understand grieving for a little bit after the fact, but 20 years later, get over it. I felt the emotions were contrived, as if the author was trying to coax empathy from the reader, and it just wasn't happening. I hated the parents and when the book focused on them, because it just dragged and went nowhere. I did enjoy the Caroline/Phoebe story-line a bit more, but overall, this book was one major snooze-fest. The plot had so much potential to become a fantastic read, but unfortunately, Kim Edwards killed it with lame characters, and way too many metaphors. It was just awful.

    11 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    WORTH THE READ

    The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a book that should be savored. Each paragraph is awash in beautiful imagery and the phrasing is glorious. I found myself rereading paragraphs to fully appreciate the imagery.
    The story is heart-wrenching. I have found myself with a new insight into people suffering from Down's Syndrome. I will never look at them in the same way again.
    The characters are real, and the reader can feel the anguish, joy, heartache and struggles that can be the result of one decision made on one night. At any moment, we can experience a moment that can change our lives forever.
    A must read!

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent book! If you're looking for a heart-tugging novel which pulls you into the emotional whirlwind of the character's lives, this is the book for you.

    The ink spilling out of an author's pen, spreading on a blank piece of paper, fresh, spontaneous, like the accidental pattern footprints make on the clean slate that is a sandy shore. Each individual pairs up words with their own finesse, secretly wishing a successful outcome. American author Kim Edwards excels in her first novel "The memory keeper's daughter" in more ways than one. With the intriguing plot, mesmerizing descriptiveness and as a whole the heartwarming message the story leaves behind.
    David Henry, a work-driven doctor has the miraculous ability and luck to deliver his own twins from the love of his life, Norah. When the second baby, a girl, is delivered, due to his lucid knowledge on medicine, he instantly realizes the peculiar features which make her fit into the category of a baby with down syndrome. With the intention of sparing her wife the pain, he gives it to the nurse Caroline and tells her to take her to an institute for mentally challenged children, planning to tell Norah the baby girl was a still birth. When Caroline arrives to the institute, she makes the decision of keeping the baby, Phoebe, due to the pitiful conditions of the institute. This turn Caroline takes leads to every possible problem that could have ever been thought of.
    From the very first page of this best selling novel, I was captured by the story, feeling and anticipating what each character was going through. With the plot revolving around such a delicate subject, children with Down syndrome, the powerful, emotional blizzard the author strikes us with is inevitable. Another key element that propels this book is the change in character perspective the author lets us perceive. With the conflict having two completely different angles, through perspective alternation we get to live beside different characters struggling with different aspects of one same problem. This novel also helps us as the readers, get the flexibility of supporting whichever side of the conflict we best relate with, not only with what the usual one-voice narrator or speaker is expressing.
    I also praise Kim Edwards greatly for her incredible vocabulary. The way she uses words to drown the reader in her story is impressive and not very common in novels. While reading the back of my book before actually starting to read it, I noticed how all the reviews from the most acknowledged sources esteemed Edward's way of describing to the finest detail each aspect, character, setting and situation of her story. She proved them right, and satisfied my expectations.
    Last but not least I can't ignore the deep message this novel conveys. From beginning to end the story circles around this one innocent little girl, tagged by society as a mongoloid, or a child suffering from Down syndrome. With David, the main character and her father, giving her away, various conflicts appear as a domino effect, deceit, affairs, redemption, secrets and more. The resolution to all this conflict leads to the simple lesson of love before interest.
    In conclusion, I recommend this phenomenal piece of work to all in search of a thrilling novel full of emotion, description and intriguing moments. Kim Edwards' way of writing is hypnotic. I assure anyone who succumbs to reading it will not be disappointed.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2009

    Disappointed

    I found this to be a very slow read. Too many metaphors, far too many detailed and superfluous descriptions, in my opinion. The characters were OK, but my favorites who seemed to have the most life, were Caroline and Phoebe. Also, in a few instances, I had a sense of what was going to happen. After awhile it became a drudgery and I wanted to finish it just to finish it!

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2011

    Why so many mixed reviews?

    It's a New York Times Bestseller and yet I'm seeing people give it four starts and some only one star. If it's a bestseller you should trust that it's good. It's at least worth giving a try.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 26, 2011

    Great book

    I really liked the way this read. She is a very descriptive author.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    A Picture of The Heart by Emilie

    The Memory Keeper¿s Daughter by Kim Edwards is a book that will keep you in suspense the whole time you read it. By the end you will be left with a satisfying feeling.<BR/> It starts out with a birth and rejection. Dr. David Henry delivers his on baby. Then he realizes that there is another baby coming. After the second child is born Dr. Henry sends her with his nurse Caroline to an institution. But here¿s the kicker. Caroline doesn¿t leave her there. She names her Phoebe and takes her to live in Lexington. All the while Norah doesn¿t even have a clue that her daughter is alive and somewhat well. Phoebe was sent away due to her having Downs Syndrome. It¿s a sad, sad world. Norah was told that she died at birth.<BR/> Now I know what you¿re thinking. Why in the world would a father do that to his child, his wife, his home? He better have a reason or something right. Well, this is going to sound bad, but he did. He had a sister who died when she was 12 years old. He didn¿t want his family to go through that again after knowing the child to watch her suffer. It sounds so cruel. I could not imagine doing that or having someone do that to me. <BR/> David never tells his wife about it until the relationship is over. They are no longer talking to each other. Norah has many affairs with other men and David takes up photography as a hobby. He takes lots of pictures all the time.<BR/> When reading this novel a saw the monster David was. But as it went along I saw that he was only doing what he thought was right. It¿s weird to admit that but I did. He just went about it the wrong way. I also saw how much Caroline loved Phoebe. There is doubt about that. And later Al loves the two girls also. David¿s son Paul wants his dad to suffer. Why else would he go against his wishes and go into music.<BR/> The Memory Keeper¿s Daughter has different themes. There is the whole don¿t lie it comes back to haunt you thing. But there are so many more. There is do what¿s right when you don¿t know what to do. There is be you and not what others think or want you to be. Don¿t just try to find one and only one in everything you read. It¿s too hard to do.<BR/> The only problem I had with reading this book was the absence of dialogue. David and Norah talked but it was difficult to figure it out. Otherwise the narrator just told us what was going on in their minds and not what they say.<BR/> The title was a mystery to me when I started to read. I thought at first it was an old wise man telling the story about his daughter. Boy was I wrong. I realized it was David and the tale of his inner struggle of his daughter that he hasn¿t been around. That doesn¿t make it The Memory Keeper¿s Daughter. But if you recall the Valentines Day dinner that Norah had made for David and the gift that she bought. It was a camera. A Memory Keeper to be exact. The same camera that David took all of his pictures.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2008

    Too long and drawn out!

    I don't know why all novels these days have to be between 350 and 400 pages long. This story definitely could've been told in fewer pages. I almost didn't finish it because I was getting bored. The ending was disappointing, not worth the wait.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2014

    If youre in a honors english class as a freshman!

    Im on the fourth chapter right now. And so far im really enjoying this book! I really recommend, especially if you have an honors english class as a freshman!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2012

    I have aquestion for the people that have already read this book ... also a review.

    Does anyone know who Rosemary and Laura are? I'm very confused between the two. I really do think that this book is interesting. Althouh, it gets pretty confusing in some parts. But, on the other hand, some of these paragraphs, phrases, pages, shoild be framed. I found myself rereading some and locking the images in my mind, because of how beautiful the descriptions are. I hope u give this book a try and for those that have already read this book, please responde(((((: God bless <3

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2012

    Loved it

    If you want a light read, this isn't for you. Kim Edwards ability to weave motif and develop characters is well done in this debut novel. It isn't a beach read, but the writing is excellent. Edwards' tale draws in readers who are interested in writer's craft.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 17, 2011

    Highly Recommend

    I though this was a very good read. Well worth the time. We read it for a book club choice.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2010

    Just okay

    All in all, I didn't like this book nor dislike it. It was just okay. I feel like it never really reached a climax, that it just ran on and on about the Henry-characters day to day lives and the horrible events that happened to them. I ended up very much disliking Norah. On the other hand, I did like the parts of the book that were about Caroline, Phoebe, and Al; however, I suppose it was unrealistic how well their lives turned out. I might recommend this book to a friend who enjoys reading anything, but not someone who's just looking for a good, simple read as it can get boring.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2010

    I loved this book

    I really enjoyed this book. The characters were well developed and the story line really drew me in. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2010

    Just Be Truthful

    When I read there were such rave reviews from other authors, plus the interesting story plot, I found myself interested but greatly disappointed by the same uniqueness. It was an absolute chore to read, although Edwards definitely made her point through the unhappiness portrayed at every turn. I felt the contrasted family other than "The Henry's" was too unrealistic, and sometimes pained me on how "perfect" things worked out for them. I didn't feel pity for any of the characters and absolutely hated Mrs. Henry throughout the book. The walk-away message: "just be truthful with each other & oneself". I can foresee how different people can maybe look through different eyes at every situation presented in this book though, so I do recommend it as a book club book, (and it luckily has a guide in the back). Why it's called "The Memory Keepers Daughter" is beside me as her role was more passive than focal. As you can see, what you see is NOT what you get from this book. If you're between reading this book and another: choose the other.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 8, 2009

    Best book ever!!!

    I like this book. Especially is the author' s profound writing to describe the difference in the twin's life. The book leaps from that moment to other parallel moments in the lives of Paul and his sister,Phoebe who has Down's Syndrome, and those involved in the choices that made those lives so very different.It can be a true story about the family that has the Down's Syndrome member, and it also talk about the discrimination with the Down's Syndrome.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Rather Disappointed

    The plot seemed promising and interesting, but after completing this novel I felt utterly depressed. I do enjoy a novel with realistic tones about life, however this one seemed to go nowhere.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2009

    the most moving book i have read

    The idea of this book was astonishing. I could not imagine such a thing until I picked it up. Once in my hands, I was unable to put it down. By far, one of the best things I have ever read (and I am an avid reader). Sad and touching, this is a must read!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2008

    Memorable Story

    Recently, I read this book.I really liked the story.Some places are a bit boring but its a pretty good book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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