- Monday, July 23, 2007

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Just a review, nothing special.

Brief Introduction of the story from ReadingGroupGuides.com:
It is 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky, and a rare and sudden winter storm has blanketed the area with snow. The roads are dangerous, yet Dr. David Henry is determined to get his wife Norah to the hospital in time to deliver their first child. But despite David's methodical and careful driving, it soon becomes clear that the roads are too treacherous, and he decides to stop at his medical clinic instead. There, with the help of his nurse Caroline, he is able safely to deliver their son, Paul. But unexpectedly, Norah delivers a second child, a girl, Phoebe, in whom David immediately recognizes the signs of Down's Syndrome.

David is a decent but secretive man --- he has shared his difficult past with no one, not even his wife. It is a past that includes growing up in a poor, uneducated family and the death of a beloved sister whose heart defect claimed her at the age of twelve. The painful memories of the past and the difficult circumstances of the present intersect to create a crisis, one in which his overriding concern is to spare his beloved Norah what he sees as a life of grief. He hands the baby girl over to Caroline, along with the address of a home to which he wants her taken, not imagining beyond the moment, or anticipating how his actions will serve to destroy the very things he wishes to protect. Then he turns to Norah, telling her, "our little daughter died as she was born."

From that moment forward, two families begin their new, and separate, lives. Caroline takes Phoebe to the institution but cannot bear to leave her there. Thirty-one, unmarried, and secretly in love with David, Caroline has been always been a dreamer, waiting for her real life to begin. Now when she makes her own split-second decision to keep and raise Phoebe as her own, she feels as if it finally has.

As Paul grows to adulthood, Norah and David grow more and more distant from each other. Norah, always haunted by the daughter she lost, takes a job that becomes an all-consuming career, and seeks the intimacy that eludes her with her own husband through a series of affairs. Feeling as if he's a disappointment to his father, Paul is angry and finds his only release through music. David, tormented by his secret, looks for solace through the lens of his camera, the "Memory Keeper," trying to make sense of his life through the images he captures.

But as The Memory Keeper's Daughter so eloquently shows, life is a moving image, unfolding and changing beyond our control. Despite our desire to freeze a moment or to go back into the past and alter events, time presses us forward. With her heart-wrenching yet ultimately hopeful novel, Kim Edwards explores the elusive mysteries of grief and love, and the power of the truth both to shatter and to heal.


I specially like the father of the story whose name is David Henry. I love the way Kim Edwards spoke of the way he felt about the wrong he had done, and the events happening to him—his wife having extra affairs, especially. His thoughts always circles around this: because I've done this, that happening to me is the consequence of my actions, henceforth, accept it I must with no other retaliation. His emotions were so beautifully depicted by Edwards that it seemed that this story was entirely about the pain he had.

I like the way Paul felt about his father too: he doubted his father's love. And I realize that many times there are people in my life who try to show me they care but couldn't (due to their lack of ability or whatsoever I care less), and perhaps it is my responsibility to learn the real art of love and care so that there'll be no another Jonathan or Paul.

Yet, I didn't like Phoebe; I couldn't see the Down's syndrome effect in her. Yes, Kim Edwards did mention about Phoebe's difficulty in trying to learn how to read and so forth, but what amazes me negatively is the ability of Phoebe to speak her emotions and form proper sentences. I've seen people with Down's Syndrome before, and believe me, even for them to utter three simple words 'Jesus Loves You' takes a whole great load of effort, which is why I don't think Phoebe was shown well.

But overall, it was an okay book, something worth reading for skills, if you might put it that way. Edwards has a brilliant way of linking emotions and actions together—the way she was angry about David, and the way she burnt the photos; the way she was stressed and determined to protect Paul, her son, and angry at David, and they way she jumped on wasps in the paper bag of the vacuum cleaner—they were good.

Read it if you like slow moving plots but beautiful descriptions. It took me more than 2 weeks to finish this book. (Of course, I was only reading two to three hours everyday)


jeannie said...

I soooo darn want to read this book!Hmmm...Have to save some money to spend on books..

Jon Chu said...

You haven't got it? Go get it and read. :)To many it's a good book, maybe you can see if it is, to you, a good book or otherwise. :)

jeannie said...

I'll try to get the book. See if MY SIS will buy or not. If she's buying, then I can save my money for more books. LOL!!