I read very little current fiction, but I decided to pick something up I’d never heard of at the library this weekend. This seemed interesting, and it ended up being a captivating book. At the beginning of the book, Norah Henry has twins, delivered by her husband David during a blizzard. He’s a doctor, and recognizes right away that the second baby has Down’s Syndrome. The birth takes place in 1964, when there was a lot of negative stigma about people with Down’s, and the doctor worries about the girl’s heart. His own sister died of heart problems, and he remembers the grief the family went through. He makes a bad decision, and asks his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby to an institution. He tells his wife that the girl, named Phoebe, was stillborn (Norah was under gas when the baby was born). Caroline doesn’t leave Phoebe at the institution, however; she instead takes her as her own, leaves town, and raises her. The book follows the parallel lives of the Henrys and Caroline, and the way that this one lie, this one secret, touches everyone.
I liked this book. It wasn’t my favorite book ever, nor do I think it was particularly high literature, but it was fun, interesting, and at the end, ultimately hopeful. For a pretty depressing subject, Kim Edwards does a good job not making you feel absolutely miserable all throughout. This is her debut book, and it’s pretty good. My only real problem with it (besides some editor screw-ups like saying “David’s guitar instructor” instead of “Paul’s guitar instructor”) was her use of cliched metaphors and similes. I also, on my own, didn’t like the fact that I read it straight through for a day and a half, but that says more about my own self-control than about her writing. Obviously her writing was captivating enough and the story was engaging enough to keep me going on. I would recommend The Memory-Keeper’s Daughter for anyone who is looking for a fast, fun read without any deep thinking. Not something I would want to read on a permanent basis, but certainly nice for a light break in my serious reading, especially after Little Women and Madame Bovary.