Kim Edwards's stunning family drama evokes the spirit of Sue Miller and Alice Sebold, articulating every mother's silent fear: what would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you? In 1964, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins, he immediately recognizes that one of them has Down Syndrome and makes a split-second decision that will haunt all their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and to keep her birth a secret. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child as her own. Compulsively readable and deeply moving, The Memory Keeper's Daughter is an astonishing tale of redemptive love.
Well written, but depressing. I couldn't put this book down, but in the end, I felt incredibly down on life. The books is dark, dark, dark. There are many passages about each character's past--as if they're trapped in their memories, which conveys this sense of helplessness about life....more info
I couldn't possibly express my anger strongly enough. I can't recall being as disappointed in a novel, especially by someone with obvious talent, as I was with this one.
Yesterday on the bus, as I continued my commitment to finishing it, I was continually looking up, glancing around, screaming in my head 'You're kidding, right? You're not serious!!!' after coming upon yet another abysmally conceived bit.
At its best, there is some very nice writing here. (Mostly at the beginning, before the author took off on her mawkish, melodramatic journey) At its worst? High school short story-time.
Its earnestness...especially as a New York Times #1 Bestseller!!!...is astounding. The lack of 'deftness of touch' is reminiscent of using a Mack truck to move a wine glass. That Ms Edwards wrote 'The Secrets of the Fire King' is astounding...never mind the facts that she's a) a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop AND b) an assistant professor of English at the University of Kentucky.
My boggled mind has been traumatized.
I want to know two things:
1) How much the writers on the book's covers were paid to contribute the accolades they did, and
2) Where, oh where were her editors?!?
Unbelievably disappointing. Even as I type this, my frustration, my anger prevents me from properly castigating all those involved...and also from properly expressing my sadness at the loss of time and energy I've experienced in reading this dross.
Although I believe Ms Edwards is talented, and wish her the best, I suspect that she should stay away from long-form fiction. 'The Memory Keeper's Daughter' suggests that it's beyond her. ...more info
No continuity in the plot Like a lot of people said, this book started off with a lot of promise. The premise to the story is very promising, but after the first couple of chapters, it goes downhill. The author does way too much editorializing and moralizing in the story. After David gives up his daughter, every single event, even if he burned his pancakes, is because of the "decision he made all those years ago." I don't buy it. There needs to be a clearer connection between the events in his life and the choice he made. Many of the characters have no relevance to the plot, and if anything, interfere with it. This seems like a story that is written stream of conscious with no connection from the previous event to the next, and then no editing is done to create a seamlessness in the storyline. There are so many seams in this plot, I thought I was inside of a shirt....more info
Thought Provoking During a snowstorm in 1964, Norah Henry goes into labor. Unable to reach the hospital, Norah's husband meets his nurse at his orthopedic practice, and delivers his healthy son Paul into the world. A few minutes later a second child is born, a girl with Down's syndrome. David Henry makes a split second decision, one that will haunt him all his life. He tells his nurse to take the child to an institution nearby. He then waits for his wife to awaken from the anesthesia, and tells her the child has died and been taken away for burial. Unbeknown to David however, the nurse Caroline does not leave the baby at the institution. Carefully planning her disappearance, she leaves town and raises the child as her own.
A multi-layered look at the destruction lies and deception can take on a family, even when the lie is told with the best intentions. Following the lives of the two families, the Henry family, slowly being destroyed by a lie that only one of them knows, and Caroline's struggles as a single mother raising a special needs child, Edwards adroitly weaves the two separate tales until the convergence of the story lines near the end of the book. Well written, if repetitive at times, I couldn't stop reading until I found out what the end of the story would bring.
Politically Correct Weepie You can always tell a Politically Correct novel because the characters who don't behave in a PC way are punished. In this case, when the Misguided Father rejects his Down Syndrome (continually and incorrectly called "Down's Syndrome") daughter, you just know he is going to come to a Bad End. And he does, after 400 pages that move at the pace of a somnolent Galapagos tortoise.
Moving away from the hobbling confines of the premise, and judging the novel just as a novel, it is lacking in many ways.
1. The characters are not well defined and are almost impossible to identify with, except for Caroline Gill, the nurse. At least you know what she is thinking, why she feels that way, and what motivates her. Her reactions, too, are those of a normal person. The others are just vehicles for the author to float her PC plot upon. The father makes little sense, the wife Norah is a cipher, their son Paul just a name with a few attributes hung onto it ("plays the guitar wonderfully".)
They were basically unlikable, spoiled people so I didn't care if they came to a Bad End. They seemed to have no real purpose in life---stereotypical yuppies who never grew up.
2. I see much praise of the author's style but I found it flat and bland. Sometimes style can make up for feeble plot or character but not here. The writing was not vivid and tended to fall back on cliches, like a town in France where you walked to the market for fresh bread and pots of flowers. Surely she could find a more original thing to say about France, other than an image from a travel poster. (All that was missing was the bicycle-basket and the beret.) Opening the book at random, here's a couple of sentences: "The water between his feet was brown, edged with a sickly white foam. The wind rose, and the swirling water flashed, drew closer, and then there was acid in his throat and he was on his hands and knees, the stones cold beneath his hands, vomiting into the wild gray river, heaving until nothing more could be expelled."
Not that there is anything incorrect about them, but for a book lauded for its style, it seems that "brown...sickly white foam...swirling water...wild gray river" are pretty blah descriptives. 400 pages of this gets increasingly dull. I found I had to skim a lot of it just to keep going to the end.
3. The plot involved too many unbelievable things. I know, "suspension of disbelief" and "it's a novel," but I also know that one of the rules of fiction is that your readers will grant you one big thing (say, that Martians have moved to Youngstown, Ohio) but that you must be scrupulous in all the others. In this case, it was one unlikely event after another. I am sure the author set the beginning in 1964 because presumably it was easier for a doctor to cover up his tracks if he did anything questionable back then. And the snowstorm was so patently a set up (how else could the author make sure the usual witnesses couldn't make it in to the hospital?) and the friendly truck driver who turns up just at the right moment o rescue the nurse and the baby...and on and on. I know death certificates existed in 1964 but as that would have ruined her plot, the author didn't mention that little inconvenience. ...more info
Decent- Worth the time I found the Memory Keepers Daughter kept my interest. I predicted it to be a tear jerker based on subject matter, but instead it envoked anger. The journey of how could he to understanding why he did was one I was not expecting. The book was a little descriptive for me and I found myself skipping wordy sections. However, I thought the characters were well defined and found identification of myself in each of them. I have already loaned the book to others and recommended it. It is definately worth a read. ...more info
A page-turner, but too sad I could not put this book down! Yet, for all of that, once I finished it, I felt cheated and DEEPLY saddened. The only happy part of the book is Phoebe. Everything else is just...sad. And there are a couple of plot twists that I can't stomach, either because they take away from the story or because they make no sense. I can't say anything more without spoilers, so I won't; but I did not like this book very much and I do not recommend it....more info
Not a book for action/adventure lovers It seems like people either love or hate this book. I thought it was beautifully written and the story idea was fairly unique. It's not a "happy" book, but it really does make you think and I think Edwards does a good job of illustrating how secrets can tear a family apart....more info
Boring..... but ok. This was an ok book. I can usually whip through a novel of this size in a week or two and I have put this one down a few times and read something else. I have recently picked it back up committed to finishing what I have started.
It's a good story not great, and I would hardly recommend it to anyone who loves to read. I kept losing interest in it and never fell in love with any of the characters. ...more info
The Destructive Power of Secrets The novel begins on a winter night in 1964, 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. For motives he tells himself are good, he makes a split-second decision that will haunt all their lives forever.
Full of truth about the destructive power of secrets, I enjoyed this book on numerous levels.
Despite all the buzz about the book, I never bothered to read the back blurb or pay much attention to the gist of the book, because I knew I didn't want to spoil anything. I'm glad I didn't catch wind of the plot, because I would have missed the chance to be a bit shocked and to literally gasp out loud with a soft "holy ****, no he didn't."- (I love moments like that in books!)
The middle of the book (what I call- Norah's wallowing) I had to push through- but i really liked the premise and the rest the book.
An intriguing novel that deserves it's time on the best seller list as far as I'm concerned....more info
Merely OK I thought that this book looked and sounded like one that I wouldn't be able to put down. For the first few chapters, I was very interested in it. After that, it became difficult for me to read. Not because I couldn't understand it or because it was poorly written, but because it was boring and a little predictable. It wasn't the worst book that I've read in recent months, but it was far from being the best. I'm not likely to purchase another of Kim Edwards' books in the future....more info
The Memory Keeper's Daughter This book is about a doctor named David Henry, he delivers his own twins. His first child, Paul, is healthy. But his second child, Phoebe, has down syndrome. So David makes a decision that will haunt him forever, he hands Phoebe to his nurse, Caroline, and tells her to take Phoebe to an institution (I think thats what it is?) but instead Caroline takes Phoebe away to raise as her own. David tells Norah (his wife, mother of Paul and Phoebe) that Phoebe died at birth.
So David lives with this secret.
Its a pretty good book, it travels through the years as Paul and Phoebe grow and shows the importance of that moment. It's well written, very powerful. But the ending, I don't know. I guess it just doesn't tie everything up. It's not an ending where you think about it all night (like I regularly do) you just kind of read the last page and it feels like you still have to finish the book. And you think the book could end well at a certain point, but you look and theres still 2 or 3 more pages. Edwards keeps dragging the ending out (not through the whole book, just the last few chapters) like she doesn't want to let go of writing this book. And another thing about the book, it feels like some of the characters are just dropped.
But don't read this and not want to read the book, its worth reading just be prepared for a little less than perfect ending....more info
I cared enough to skim to the ending While the premise is interesting, I never connected with the characters enough to care. I skimmed a lot till I found out the ending. Edwards had a lovely image of the child's hand like a small star but she used it at least four times. There was a "she" for a "he" once. I read it several times to confirm the errors. Editors??? Where were you? I read the book because a friend of mine loved it. I am a writer and know I can get picky picky but this book did nothing for me,...more info
Haunting novel filled with so many "what if's". Haunting novel filled with so many "what if's". I love first novels of authors, and this is one. Though I cannot imagine how someone could act as David did when his twins were born, I have to accept that he did it out of deep love and wanting to protect Hannah and Paul. Yet that very act shattered the very love he was trying to save. As the author so often says, it built a wall that no one in the Henry family could scale. I feel a little disconcerted about how events with David progressed, a little cheated, though I don't want to say more because of spoilers, etc. David's actions to keep Hanna safe turned her into a very different woman than she might have been...
As for Caroline and Phoebe, I can appreciate what Caroline did, but the whole thing of keeping a baby secret from her mother is not exactly something I can wrap my head around. There is resolution in this book, but still a lot of questions, open ends and a mystery. It only deepens my beliefs that not all secrets meant to protect or help do.
I have a number of friends with children with trisomy 21 (aka Down or Down's syndrome) and see the struggle parents and family go through as the children grow into adulthood. I felt that much of Caroline's thoughts were right on the money.
David's photography was an interesting vehicle to separate him yet keep him an observer of life.
Moments on Film David Henry has worked his whole life to get away from the childhood he had, where his family struggled to make ends meet and died rather early in life. He has become a physician and his young wife is pregnant. On a rare snowy night in Lexington, Kentucky, she goes into labor and delivers twins, one boy and one girl. But, David realizes just after birth that his baby girl has Down Syndrome, and he worries about her fate; his own sister died of heart problems when she was still very young. So, he tells his nurse, Caroline Gill, to take her away to an institution, common during those times. Caroline brings the baby to the institution, but cannot leave her there, and instead runs away with the newborn Phoebe. David simply tells his wife that their baby girl died shortly after birth.
In the years that follow, David's carefully created family begins to fall apart, torn by the secrets each of them keep. David turns to photography, a way to capture memories on film, as a way to escape his secret and express the emotions that tear him up inside. It's not until after his death, though, that the family really understands his obsession with photography and his motivations.
The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a tragically realistic story of what it was like to be disabled in the 1960's and beyond. I have a sister with autism and can fully understand the difficulties that Phoebe, and the others in the story, go through. It's heart-wrenching, and you'll be willing the characters to go against their better judgment by the end. While the story was not likely meant to be inspiring, it can give an insight into the world of the disabled, whether it be individuals with Down Syndrome or other disorders that prevent them from being completely 'normal' in today's society.
While I understand the structure of the novel, I do wish we were given more insight into Caroline and Phoebe's world. There is so much left unsaid on that end of things because so much focus is on David and his wife, Norah, as well as their son, Paul. Perhaps because of this desire to know more about Phoebe, I found some of the sections about David and Norah to be dry and more difficult to get through. Even at the end, though, it's hard to really understand some of the characters, because they weren't fleshed out well. The setting is lacking, though perhaps purposefully. Though the story takes place in two distinct cities, it is told in a way that could really take place anywhere and at almost any time.
This is an excellent book to read, if only because of the insight it offers into a world many people aren't terribly familiar with....more info
Not Memorable Not a Keeper This book has a great concept for a storyline, a good idea for a plot. Unfortunately, I found the writing so poor, I had to force my way through a lot of it. More like a romance novel than a literary one, it was sometimes hard to follow the flashbacks that jump around and are inserted in a clumsy way to provide background information. Dialogue was often unrealistic. The wife's anger at her husband and her degeneration into drunkenness was not portrayed realistically to me; I kept wondering "Why?" She didn't know what he had done, after all. There were a number of sophomoric stylistics, repetitions, and inconsistencies (it needed an editor!.) It would have been interesting to see this same story in the hands of a really good writer....more info
Freeze Frame On a snowy winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced to deliver his twins and makes a split-second decision that forever alters theh lives of everyone involved. When it is apparent to him that his daughter has Down's Syndrome, he asks the nurse to take her to an institution, without telling his wife. The nurse, Caroline Gil, complies, but upon arriving at the institution, she does not have the heart to leave the girl there and winds up raising her on her own. Meanwhile, David has told his wife that their daughter died at birth, a lie that grows between them as the years progress.
"The Memory Keeper's Daughter" is episodic in nature, moving through spans of years from the 1960s to the 1980s, with four main characters acting as narrators: Caroline, David, his wife Norah, and their son Paul. Each character is forever affected by that one snowy night. Norah cannot get over the loss of her daughter and Paul wonders what his sister would have been like, at times feeling himself to blame for the loss. David knows that he can never share this secret and set things right, as he desperately longs to do, further building the wall that grows between his family members. Caroline wonders what her place in all this is, and whether or not she should reveal the secret or even allow David to be a part of his daughter's life.
Edwards is a gifted storyteller, sketching each character completely, making the time and story come to life. Yet sometimes her prose is a little too heavy-handed in all its detail; certain attempts at being poetic are too dense, and some images are repeated causing them to lose their effect. After a tremendous buildup, the ending feels slightly rushed. While it may be hard to imagine a proper ending for a story of this magnitude, almost too little was done to wrap up some loose ends that remained. All in all, "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" is quick-paced and engaging, a vividly drawn and truly enjoyable read. ...more info
Painfully Slow This book had so much promise, but it seems the author got lost in the same blizzard the night that David Henry delievered his twins. Lack of character development, too many descriptions (every. single. detail. must. be. included.) and a disappointing ending contributed to a boring, misguided novel. One star for the cover and one star for the ability to fool so many people into buying this book....more info
Great plot, but not so great writing While I found the story line extremely interesting, I struggled to get through this book. If the plot was any less interesting, I would've given up (and was often tempted to do so). There were far too many details that were totally unnecessary to the story--metaphors that actually distracted me. Some I even rolled my eyes over. The author over uses certain words and metaphors as well--and I am not one who has ever noticed that in any other book I've read. For instance, she uses the word "pale" so many times that I could almost predict when she was going to use it again. Far too many of her metaphors use water to the point where they were also tedious and distracting.
The plot was good, as was the character development, but I do not like her writing style at all....more info
A story of misguided Love
Sometimes the choices we make in the name of protecting someone we love can cause the object of our love more harm than good. So it is with Dr. David Henry.
When twins, a boy and a girl, are born to his wife, and the girl has Downs Syndrome, he decides it would be better for his wife to think the child died at birth. He puts the infant in the hands of his nurse to take to an institution. Instead, she keeps the girl and the child becomes a blessing to her and her husband. In the doctor's family, the wife cannot come to terms with her loss and her husband cannot forget the child he abandoned and both contribute to the breakdown of their marriage. The Memory Keeper's Daughter is an excellent story of both heartbreak and happiness and the validation of Downs Syndrome children as loving, happy individuals and, although they may need extra care, they can be as much a blessing to a family as any child.
Eunice Boeve, author of Ride a Shadowed Trail
Definitely Disappointing The first half of the book was interesting enough. The story was page turning, leaving the reader wondering how this was going to turn out and appreciating the writing style of the author. About 2/3 of the way in, I realized that I didn't care for any of the characters and thus didn't mind if someone was hurt. That is what made this a disapointment....more info
"Good" but too long and drawn out This book was just "OK" to me. When I first began to read this book I couldn't put it down for the first 1/2 of the book. About middle ways through it I began to get bored reading about how their son, Paul was smoking weed and stealing cars and about how Norah, the wife, was out having many affairs. During that part of the book I found myself stopping and taking more "breaks" and forcing myself to pick it up again to learn the final outcome of the story. I was a little disappointed in the ending too. ...more info
Had high hopes, but couldn't finish it. Like many other people, I truly was excited about picking up this book. The premise touched my heart and I couldn't wait to get it. Unfortunately, once I dug in the book became tedious and I couldn't relate to the characters. Once I realized that I didn't care what happened to them, I had to stop reading. I'm a very soft hearted person (which means I cry at movies often) so if this book didn't touch me, it may not touch you either....more info
Was Hoping for More Redemption The Memory Keeper's Daughter takes place during a snowstorm in 1964. An orthopedic doctor and his wife are surprised when she goes into labor three weeks early. Because of the snow, they cannot get to the hospital, but they can get as far as the doctor's clinic, then wait for the arrival of an OB in his practice to deliver the baby. The baby is coming quickly, though, and the OB has a car accident and can't make it on time. With the assistance of one of the clinic's nurses, the husband/doctor must deliver the baby himself. Only...it's not just one baby. After bringing a beautiful, healthy boy into the world, the husband realizes his wife is actually pregnant with twins. He stays to deliver the second child - a girl, with Down's syndrome. Fearing a terrible prognosis for the life she will lead, the husband gives the baby to the nurse to take away. His initial instructions are for the nurse to take the baby to an institution outside of town. Though he plans to tell his wife the truth, when she comes back to clarity after the births, he tells her the baby girl has died. When the wife asks to see the baby, he says she is already gone, to the cemetery.
The nurse follows the doctor's instructions, and takes the baby to the group home. Seeing the terrible conditions there, she cannot bring herself to leave the child. Instead, she moves to a different city and raises the girl as her own daughter.
The book follows the story of these two worlds - the grieving parents and their son, the nurse and her adopted daughter - as they orbit around the decisions made and lies told on this one night in 1964. It's true that there is a lot of sadness in this book, but strangely, there's a lot of honesty, too. Edwards makes a close examination into how it is to love others, or try to, despite the things we keep from each other and the walls we build to keep ourselves protected. I could never relate to the specific situation in this story, but I could relate to a lot of the intricacies of family relationships - as a child, as a parent, as a spouse. I also found it interesting how Edwards explored why each of the characters did what they did - are our motivations always so clear? Are they always as innocent as we want to believe they are?
There is so much meat to this book; I am eager to discuss it at my book club's meeting in October. As I said, though, this book may certainly not be for everyone. It is thought-provoking and well-written, but a pretty heavy piece of work....more info
I liked it, but some of the things I liked were also some of the things that bothered me. Edwards is a descriptive writer; if you like that kind of writing, you will like her style. However, you still may not like the book. I like her writing, but it works better in short stories or shorter novels.
I liked how Nora began to grow career-wise throughout the novel, but thought her character could have been fleshed out more. I did not find her a sympathetic character, particular as the novel wore on, and I think it would have been better if she had been.
Also, I thought the plot unfolded a little too neatly in some aspects. To be sure, the characters had difficult lives, but sometimes things did not ring true. For example, Caroline didn't struggle as I thought she would have: Doro, her gift, just not very realistic. Also Davis's photography career, as opposed to a hobby, was hard to swallow. It just took off a little too well.
Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and I'm glad I did. It just wasn't a great book....more info
Beautiful, artful handling of many difficult themes I found the story to be beautiful and sad, but fell short of depressing. Instead, I was fascinated as Edwards deftly explored so many themes. She accurately, yet with a graceful subtely, reflected the epochal decades the characters pass through in the book. The disappointment for couples of finding it so difficult to remain in love, or even simply to communicate, after marriage. The long stretches of emotionally numbing day-to-day life in a marriage. The very real and little undstood depression mothers often experience when their children are very young, when they are beautiful yet so emotionally and physically draining. The challange to so many people who, like David, left poor, rural communities post WWII, getting an education, yet still feeling a keen sense of inadequacy or embarrassment about their origins. The transition afoot in the 60s and 70s, and the disorientation often involved for both wives and husbands, in finding, feeling that it was not necessarily a given that women must stay at home rearing children. How do couples maintain their individuality within a relationship, without erecting walls between them that can't be crossed. The stunning dislocation for parents of trying to cope with volatile teenage children, and often not surviving unscathed.
Hence, the story treats so much more than the effect of guilt over the dark secret of the twin sister. The delicate personal and societal issues of dealing with handicapped persons are, like the other themes, handled tenderly and openly, yet without being forced on the reader. Nevertheless, much of what Edwards describes could happen in any relationship, to any couple trying to master the complexities of making marriage and family work, particularly in that era. It's almost as if the secret of Phoebe's existence serves to accentuate, accelerate and heighten the tensions that would have have existed, in any event, in the lives of Norah and David. This secret gives what might otherwise be mundane themes an added edge and poignancy, a reason to be written about.
Sweet, Predictable, Easy Read Normally I eschew the "IT" novels - usually they bore me with their lack of imagination and are two dimensional and written for the "beach book" type of readers. I had no intention of reading this book but it seemed to creep up everywhere - on the front tables at Barnes & Nobles and Borders, to every thrift store I found - so I finally gave in to read it.
It wasn't as horribly romance-novel like as I expected but it didn't turn me on my head with the wonders of its use of language. It was fine for what it was and somewhat sweet. It was, however, incredibly predictable. It was obvious that the wife would feel lost, the husband would grow distant and the son would feel the stress of that kind of home. Would anyone find out that the daughter was brought up by the nurse? Would everyone bond together in the end? Sure, we all knew it was coming.
For a first novel, it was adequate. Some of the phrases were well turned but it did feel a bit like mind candy - nothing to provoke a lot of thought, no characterizations that weren't twinged with stereotype. The depth I was hoping for never arrived.
Would I recommend it? Sure, if you just want something of fluff to keep you occupied for a while. But as great literature, no. ...more info
What a memory!!! I liked the book very much. We discussed this book in our reading group and there was a lot of polemics regarding to what David did with his daughter. The decision that he made that winter night had devastating consequences especially in the life of his wife and son. The author is very narrative, maybe that is why other people did not like the book, but it's nicely structured. Our discussion was converted into a courtroom because we did a lot of judging of the characters. I will highly recommend this book if you don't mind a lot of narrative in a good reading. ...more info
Good story idea...just average execution I should probably start my reviews by letting the reader understand my reading style -- basically, I like a good, entertaining book that will allow me to escape for a little while. Books with great imagery and compelling stories suck me in. Nothing better than a good page turner!
With that said, I had been eyeing The Memory Keeper's Daughter for a while at my local bookstore. I found the idea of the story interesting. After a few months, I finally purchased on Amazon. The story outline is good: A doctor delivers his twin children in the middle of a snowstorm. The boy is normal but the girl is born with Down's Syndrome. He asks his devoted nurse to take the child to the local institution but tells his wife that there were 2 children and the girl died. The story continues to depict how that one decision changes so many lives.
Really great idea! The problem with this book was in the execution. I did not find the way it was written to be all that engaging. Part of what drew me to the book was the complimentary review from Sue Monk Kidd, author of one of my most recent favorite reads "The Secret Life of Bees." Kidd's book is written in a style that draws you into the story, into the characters and is written with such vivid language that I could actually see the house where her characters lived. I expected the same of "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" and found little of that kind of language in there. Sure, I wanted to get to the end of the story to see how it was all resolved, but I found getting there to be a bit tedious. I think the author tried to make what was in essence a novella or short story into something longer.
So, not the worst book I've ever read, but not the most engaging. If you're looking for something you can read a chapter or 2 before you go to bed at night and not have to worry about staying up all night because you can't put it down, then this is your book....more info
Overwrought Between the some of the worst passages I've ever read (incredible to me, as the author is a college writing professor and should know not to bog down her writing with "gee look how creative I can get with this metaphor" passages), the poor grammar ("Norah speeded up") and the continuous misuse of a term (It's Down Syndrome, not "Down's" Syndrome), this book was a struggle to read. The author crammed in passages about "shafts of light", "quicksilver", "starfish hands," and "cascades of (insert random something here)" at every opportunity, and yet none of these things advanced the plot. I didn't connect with the characters either. One star for content, another for the basic idea used in the plot....more info
Excellent This is a beautifully written, thought-provoking book that explores love, lies, and the spiritual poverty that stems from shame. I loved every page....more info
A book I definitely enjoyed I've never really been much of a reader. Being told to read a specific book for a certain class was not my idea of fun either. Eventually I started to read more books and to my delight discovered several that I couldn't put down. I definitely could not put this book down.
My mom and sister have both read "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" and recommended it to me and said that they thought I would enjoy it. My mom had said to me that she read it in three days and couldn't put it down.
As this story goes, in the middle of a blizzard, Dr. David Henry delivers his wife's twins, a boy and a girl. His son is perfectly healthy, but he discovers that his daughter has Down's syndrome. He secretly gives her up without his wife even knowing. He tells his office nurse Caroline to take her to an institution, but she decides to raise Phoebe as her own daughter.
This book really touched me and my mom and sister too. I could relate to the character Paul a lot. I am in band and I love to play my flute. Paul loves to play his guitar and if he was an actual person, you would see him with his guitar all the time. His dream is to go to Julliard and to play his music. I could totally understand Paul's point of view of his parents when he was a teenager. He would sometimes get mad and runaway. But more important is how I related to the character Phoebe. I have a cousin, now 24, who had a stroke when she was born. This affected her speech and her ability to think. Today, she still faces many physical and mental challenges. Some people don't know what its like to have a family member who has these problems and I think that it gave me a special insight into some of the challenges Phoebe and Caroline faced.
My favorite part in the book was Phoebe meeting her birth mom, Norah, for the first time. When they met, I was thrilled. I kept wondering and asking myself, "When will Phoebe meet her? And when will she meet her father David?" Even though Norah didn't know her at all, she saw her in Paul's eyes because they were so alike. Edwards did a nice job showing the family getting to know Phoebe and treating her as part of their family and as if they raised her.
I absolutely loved the characters. Each one has a truly different personality that made them unique and interesting. I could really picture all the characters' features and what they did in the story. Edwards showed that what's on the inside is just as important than the outside. She made the character Phoebe- a good and kind person. Phoebe doesn't care what other people think of her and is very open-minded. She is just being herself. Edwards tells us to be ourselves and to not try and pretend be anyone else.
There was only one thing I didn't like about this book. I did not like the scene in the hospital when David Henry just looked at his daughter and didn't just accept her for the way she is. Since she has Down's Syndrome, she needed extra care and had a heart defect. Babies who were like that were put away in institutions because people thought they that might not live long. If he didn't give her away, than we wouldn't have this astonishing story. I was sad that there had to be an end. I wanted to see more of Paul and Phoebe getting to know each other.
I found this to be a very inspiring story. I would recommend this book to teens and adults who have experienced a family member who has mental or physical challenges or have someone close to them who have experienced this. I wish there was a sequel to this book. I would enjoy reading this book again to see what other interesting things Edwards has to say.
too sad and too slow I thought the poetic wording in this novel was beautiful, but tedius. I never stop reading a book in the middle so I skipped about twenty pages midway through just so I could get things moving along. Another problem was how sad this book is. Everyone is so depressed and miserable. And Norah seemed very selfish and unlikable. I actually liked David Henry the most out of all the characters. Whatever he might have done wrong, at least his motives were pure. Everyone else just seemed so self possessed....more info
A truce for those readers on opposite sides... First, let me say that I understand how some readers were unable to finish the book, as quite a few readers really appreciate something that is a quick read and all story. For me personally, I loved the beautiful passages in this book, the descriptions, they are poetic and moving. I can certainly understand how it turns some readers off as it isn't particularly important to the actual story. I appreciate their comments.
Second, the story; it is indeed a fantastic premise for a book and I will assume that you already know what that premise is and if you don't you can read the synopsis on the back cover. As far as the telling of the story goes, on this point, I agree with some of the readers who have already commented that the characters themselves were frustrating. I tried to care about these people, I tried very much to like them and to understand them, but I could not. The husband, David, is so detached from his emotions, before and after, he decides to give his daughter away that I could not relate to him, even in his recollections of his sister, who he professes to love dearly, there is resentment there. He was difficult to love, however, I do believe he loved his family, he just did not know how to show them that he did, the frustrating part of it, is that he never made the effort.
As far as Norah, I could not stand her from the beginning and then she only got worse. She is extremely narcissistic, spoiled and unhappy, and instead of trying to make herself happy, she puts all the blame on her husband. She married a man she barely knew and spent the rest of her life envying everyone around her because she felt trapped and she had no freedom and her life wasn't fun, so she starts sleeping with any man that will have her, even after she finds out that her teenaged son knows this. She was so incredibly selfish...I found myself really annoyed with her. I never found myself caring about her at all. It was too difficult. So in that aspect, I agree with what some of the other readers have said in regards to the characters. As far her finding out that her daughter lived, by the end of the book, I didn't really care. I truly believe that it wouldn't' have changed things at all for this woman. And I think that is where the difficulty comes in as far as the resolution of this conflict is concerned.
And then there is Paul, the son. To me, the most obvious love David was ever able to show was for Paul, and Paul ends up feeling as if he's had this horrible childhood and his father never loved him and he can't even bother to show up for David's funeral. David was a good father to him, he wasn't perfect by any means, but if wanting your son to do more with his life than pursue a career in music is bad parenting, than shame on the world, that is a natural albeit wrong thing for parents to do, impose their own dreams on their children it certainly isn't child abuse. Considering all three of them, especially Norah and Paul who spent their lives feeling sorry for themselves and blaming it all on David (even before they knew of the "secret), for me personally, I felt more pity for David himself, having to spend his life loving (although not knowing how to show it) these two people, who could have ever cared less about him.
Now, the good points...Caroline Gill, who takes the twin sister and raises her is someone you can care about, someone you can get behind and you root for her and Al...and of course Phoebe. But these people are not in the book as nearly as much as the other three.
That being said, I believe this book deserves to be read, if only for its incredibly beautiful language. Edwards was born to be a writer, she has an incredible natural story telling talent. It's not by any means a terrible book and I don't think it deserves a one, but I can understand those reader's frustrations.
Well written Once I got a quarter way through I couldn't put it down. It can be a little bit depressing at times but it is very well written. She has excellent style and descriptions, and although the past is rehashed a bit much I felt, I still would recommend this book....more info
Compassionate, Revealing The choices we make, the truth or lies that we cling to are like invisible threads running through the whole fabric of our lives. These threads connect with the threads of the people we know and love to form webs of influence.
The author skillfully spins a tale that highlights these threads. She does so by balancing the perspectives of the all the participants, allowing the reader to see with sadness and compassion the contradictions.
If this book has a somewhat melancholy tone, it is nonetheless compelling for its accuracy in describing how the inner workings of hearts and minds affect our relationships. It raises some questions very pointedly that the reader can hardly avoid reflecting on: questions about intimacy, trust, what gives a life value and meaning.
If you are looking for a mindless, escapist, fun read, this is not the book for you. However, if you want a book to engage your soul, I recommend it....more info
Poorly written with unlikeable characters I was led to believe this book was something more than just a poorly written romance novel, but that's pretty much what it was. I'm game for a good "beach read" type of book if it's engaging and at least somewhat well-written, but this book is not. There was not one character I felt was well-developed or particularly likable. The writing style was amatuerish, and repetetive, and the resolution was unsatisfying. I was left with a feeling of "who cares?" as well as disappointment that I had wasted my time on this book....more info
Well written, but . . . I had high hopes for this book and was disappointed from the beginning. Although descriptive, it failed to evoke emotion. I found myself wanting to be finished with the book. I love books of all types, but I want them to entertain me. This one didn't....more info
Downright Heartbreaking In reading through the reviews on this book I have to say that yes, there were some things missing. But certainly not in the relationships or psyche of the main characters. The characters emotions and thoughts were so raw in this book it broke my heart, literally I was depressed for the 3 days it took me to read this book. For anyone who has gone through the loss of a child or a dark family secret, you'll relate to these characters like no other you've met. I truly believed that the author had gone through these dark times in her own life, to have been able to write so descriptively about love and loss, and all things woven into them. The loss of a child is, luckily, one that most mothers don't have to endure, it was heart-mending for me to know that in this book, our internal struggles were brought out into the light. Thank you Kim!...more info
Well written, terribly boring. This book is beautifully written, but goodness is it boring. The plot moves at a glacial pace in a seemingly endless cycle of sadness, guilt, dishonesty, repeat, with no resolution. I had to put the book down without finishing it as it was simply not my cup of tea. My girlfriend at the time gave it a better go than I did, but even she quit on it before finishing despite the fact that she had an outside interest in the subject matter. It really is a shame as the author is very talented in her ability to put words on the page....more info
a treasure This 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!...more info
Creative Writing 101: Show, Don't Tell I picked up this book fascinated by the story line on the back cover, but as I began to read, I found myself scratching my head in wonder. I felt as though the author had a severe case of ADD, and I had just spent 14.00 to be jarred around in this mysterious world of aimless thought. It was very disappointing. Honestly, I felt the author was trying to see how lyrical she could be with the English language rather than truly telling a story with depth.
It's not good to assume your reader has no imagination, and frankly, defeats the purpose of writing to begin with (entertainment via fantasy). It's rather insulting to the reader, not to mention boring and monotonous, and ultimately makes for bad storytelling, in my opinion.
In short, I found the author's writing style tedious and extreme which ultimately dampened the story and the characters.
Tell Her Already! I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others, but I was a bit impatient with the reveal of the secret that soured so many lives. I wanted David to tell Nora and Paul. He'd already lost them, he might as well have. I wanted him to meet Phoebe.
There was a lack of completion or wrap-up or, I don't know, something. The last third of the book, all I was thinking was 'Tell her! Tell her, for gosh sakes!' There was somewhat completion in that everyone involved did find out and learn to know each other as adults.
I wondered about the young girl that David befriended at his boyhood home. What was her purpose in the story? I think she represented his sister to him in some ways, Phoebe in others. But she held the secret. I kept expecting her to reveal it, rather than the nurse. I guess his saving her somewhat expiated his guilt over Phoebe and gave him some measure of peace in his later years.
All of this angst over one terrible action, which was well-intended at the time. I'm reminded of the nun's question in 'Dead Man Walking' ~ should a man be judged by the worst moment/action in his life? In this case, he was. He was cursed. His family was cursed. I don't think that's quite realistic. I think a man of conscience, as David surely was, would have done something to change or correct his action much earlier on. After so many years, it became impossible for him to do so, much as he wanted to.
I can understand why David and Nora's marriage was soured by the secret that kept him at a distance. But I don't understand why Paul would have been effected, unless it was indirectly by how his parents were effected.
A real page turner I am so stunned by all of the negative reviews on this book! I think I tend to be very critical of books, and have a very short list of favorites. I absolutely loved this book. I thought the characters were very well-developed, and the author's writing positively flowed. The relationships portrayed were so realistic and believable that I was not surprised to read the interview with the author at the end of the book that said it was based on a true story. I usually dislike books that jump from year to year, as I feel some of the story can be missed and unanswered questions will remain. Although this was true in some cases, Edwards did a nice job of providing a synopsis of what happened with the characters during the years the readers weren't "with" them. I will say that I enjoyed the beginning and middle of the book more so than the end, which I felt was maybe a tad neatly tied up. However, I would strongly recommend this book to anyone....more info
More Prose Than Plot I love the creative use of words and poetic phrases in a novel when used to to propel the story. This author seemed to love her own creative wording for their own sake, more than for moving the story along. Shortly into this book I actually tired of the use of all the lovely phrases that just dragged the story to a slower and slower pace as each page when by. I kept with if for about 1/4 the way into the book, giving it that long to develop a plot line that would hook me in, but it just didn't come about yet, and I put it down. I have not been compelled to pick it up again. ...more info