The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
The year is 1964. David Henry is a happily married orthopedic surgeon. When his wife, Norah, goes into labor in the middle of a snowstorm, David realizes that the birth will have to take place in his own office instead of at the hospital as planned. Unbeknownst to the couple, Norah is carrying twins, a boy and a girl. When David delivers the second baby, he is hypnotized by the “unmistakable features, the eyes turned up as if with laughter, the epicanthal fold across their lids, the flattened nose” (16), “the gap between her big toes and the others, [...] Brushfield spots, as tiny and distinct as flecks of snow in the irises” (17).
David, unable to bear the idea of causing his wife the pain that he knows comes with a Down’s syndrome child, asks his nurse Caroline to bring the girl to a home and then tells Norah that the baby died. After seeing the conditions at the “home for the feebleminded,” Caroline cannot bear to leave the baby there. She leaves town determined to raise the child on her own.
So the twins begin their lives, separated at birth. So also begins a quarter century of secret keeping and hidden loss. Phoebe is raised lovingly by Caroline, who must struggle against societal prejudices in order to give Phoebe the same opportunities as other children, while Paul grows up in a household filled with unexplained tension, ever touched by the shadow of the sister he never knew.
A powerful novel, The Memory Keeper's Daughter is both an exploration of grief and loss and a meditation on the power of love. Most importantly, though, it is a study of humanity...
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