I finished Kim Edwards’s New York Times Bestseller The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.
For those of you who have not heard of this book, here’s a summary.
This novel begins on a winter night in 1964, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry, an orthopedic doctor and surgeon, to deliver his own twins. His son (Paul) is born first and appears to be perfectly healthy. Suddenly, he realizes that his wife is having twins and when the second baby, a daughter (Phoebe), is born, Dr. Henry immediately realizes that she has Down syndrome.
He makes a split-second decision to ask his nurse, Caroline Gill, to take the second baby away to an institution (as was common practice in that time) in an effort to spare his wife the pain of raising and losing Phoebe. Dr. Henry tells his wife Norah that Phoebe was stillborn and Caroline disappears overnight into another city to raise the child as her own.
The book then tells the parallel stories of Dr. & Mrs. Henry raising Paul and Caroline raising Phoebe and how each deals with their secrets and loss.
I have mixed feelings about book. I felt like the plot was predictable and oftentimes felt contrived.
Still, I’m a sap and I will admit to crying towards the end of the book.
The ethical dilemma raised in this book is certainly worth discussing. Put in a similar situation at that time in history — when it was common practice to put children with Down syndrome into institutions since medical knowledge of the disease was so limited — I can’t say for sure that I would have chosen to keep the baby.
What do you think?