I wasn't sure I'd enjoy Kim Edwards' The Memory Keeper's Daughter, it sounded too much like a modern Princess Daisy story and I loved Princess Daisy when I was a kid, I wasn't sure I'd like anyone messing with the idea. But as it turned out, my fears were unfounded, the conncection only superficial - I really enjoyed both the story and the writing and would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to get completely engrossed in a storyline.
Norah Henry gives birth to twins: a healthy baby boy and a girl with Down's Syndrome. Her husband Henry takes the decision to tell Norah that the girl died at birth and in fact secretly entrusts her care to a nurse. This happens at the very beginning of the story and the rest of the book deals with how an unspoken secret influences the lives of everyone involved.
It made me think about two things. One of them is that we can never really know any other person, an idea that I'm just now getting used to. No matter how close we are to someone, we can never truly know and understand what is going on in their minds. And no one can ever fully know us either. I find this kind of a lonely thought, but also liberating in the sense that it allows me to understand human relationships better and act on them from a different point of view.
It also made me think of disability and society's and my own attitudes towards it. This wasn't at the forefront of the story, but it was certainly there, in a book that starts out in the 1960s. I haven't had much contact with disability, so I can't presume to understand it and I'm sure that this shows. This book has made me think about things a bit differently and I hope to learn more about these issues in the future.
The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a 5-star book for me - it's lengthy and yet I got through it in no time, I kept wanting to go back for more. And I'm still thinking about the characters, even though I've already started reading something else!
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