Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

I finished another page turner last night. Was another book that I would have stayed up all night to read... but didn't since I know an all night reading session makes the next day at work pretty painful! Nonetheless, I was still able to finish it in under a week. The story begins on a snowy night in 1964. Norah Henry is in labor but her doctor was involved in an accident so is not able to deliver the baby. Norah's husband, David, ends up delivering the baby. The couple doesn't realize this, but Norah is actually pregnant with twins. The first baby is a healthy boy. The second baby that is delivered has Down Syndrome. Norah was under gas so is unaware of what is happened - before she regains consciousness, David gives the baby to the nurse, Catherine, and asks her to take the baby to a home for mentally disabled people. When his wife awakes, he tells her the baby did not live. He thinks he is doing them both a favor by not subjecting them to the kind of life they would have, raising a child with Down syndrome.

And thus begins this engaging story. Catherine goes to the home that David recommended, but is so displeased by the conditions, she makes a decision that will forever change the course of her life - she decides to move away and raise the baby on her own.

David and Norah return home, but their relationship is never the same. David is haunted by the decision he made and the secret he is keeping from his wife. Norah is haunted by the fact that she never got to see or hold her baby - her husband told her he had it buried while they were still in the hospital. David assumes having a healthy baby to focus on will be enough for Norah, but unfortunately it isn't. Their relationship is forever changed.

The book follows the story of David, Norah, and their son, as well as the story of Caroline and Phoebe, the Down syndrome baby. The whole book, you are left wondering - when is he going to tell her? How could he tell her, and what will Norah do when she finds out that her daughter has been alive all this time?

This story was based on a real story of a man who discovers, late in life, that his brother had been born with Down syndrome, placed in an institution at birth, and kept a secrete from the family, even from his own mother, all his life. The brother had died in that institution. This story haunted the author and led her to write this book.

I recommend this book and give it 4 stars - definitely a thought-provoking, engaging book that is worth checking out!


Anonymous said...

Oh no! Another blog with book reviews! ;) I only say that because I have a to-read list as long as my (ape-length) arms and now I have to add this book to it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

p.s. I'm really loving the colour purple these days too.

Unknown said...

Another book to add to my list.