Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Memory Keeper's Daugher by Kim Edwards

This is one of those books I have consistently taken off the shelf at Borders and then put back. I couldn't commit to it. But when my friend Lisa gave it to me for free I figured, why not?

I can't really describe what made me put it back on the shelf for the past year or so. I've done the same thing with Water for Elephants. I even really liked the cover! I am more than half way through and while it's an ok book, it's not keeping me awake at night with anticipation.

It does, however, give an ethical dilemma that is an interesting topic for conversation. Here's a little synopsis: A doctor and his wife are pregnant in the mid 1960s. She births a healthy son and then follows a tiny daughter with Downs syndrome. The doctor gives the baby girl to the nurse, a woman named Caroline, to bring it to an institution as he doesn't believe she will live very long. He lies to his wife saying the baby girl dies. Caroline can't let herself leave the infant at the home and instead raises her herself. So the book follows the lives of each family with each child.

Throughout the entire book Norah, the doctor's wife, grieves for the lost daughter. I sort of want to slap her and tell her to get over it and pay attention to her husband and son. Does that sound really cold of me? Well, I don't care. She needs to have some therapy or something to deal with it. She's so pathetic for most of the book that I want to literally take her shoulders and shake her.

I have learned a bit about children with Downs and how their parents had to fight to let them in the public school system. My mother worked with a Downs syndrome boy for 7 years one-on-one in the public school system here. He grew up to live in a group home and have a part time job at the local grocery store. People in the 1960s and 70s didn't expect anything from children with this disease...we have come far as a society in our acceptance of them -- though probably not far enough.

Anyway. I'm not done yet so maybe my opinion will change. Maybe not.

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