The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards and a GIVEWAY

The Memory Keeper's DaughterThe Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards was one of those books that I’ve had on my bookshelf for way too long. I had purposely shied away from reading reviews of this book because I hate to know too much about a book before I read it. The only thing I knew was that I liked the cover and I see this book on display every time I go into Target.

The story begins when Dr. David Henry is forced to deliver his own set of twins. The first baby, a boy, is healthy, but the second baby, a girl, is born with Down’s Syndrome. Confronted with feelings of losing a little sister at an early age, he makes a split second decision to give his little girl away. He tells his nurse, Catherine, to take the baby girl to an institution and then tells his wife, Norah, that the baby died during childbirth. Catherine decides to take the baby to another city and raises her on her own. So I’ve just given you more information about the book than I knew, although this much can be found on the back cover (which by the way, I hardly read back covers).

The story intertwines the lives of these two families as they raise each child separately and how secrets can tear our lives apart. A few of my thoughts: I was dumbfounded by how quickly he could just give away his own child and than take that secret to his grave. I mean, who just hands over their kids after birth? But I suppose there wouldn’t be a story right? I felt sorry for Norah, who continually grieved her dead child and didn’t know she was really alive. I couldn’t understand how Catherine could have raised someone else’s child knowing how much the mother truly sorrowed over her lose. I kept waiting for something really big to happen, which never did. And the story was much too long. Would I recommend it? Yes, I would. It was interesting to take a glimpse into these peoples lives even if I thought they were all a little crazy. I liked analyzing how secrets affect our everyday actions and how they change our very being. This book would make a good book club selection s there would be a lot to discuss.

An interview with Kim Edwards and group discussion guide here.

GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away my used copy of paperback of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (I’ve since picked up the hardback and I don’t need two). Simply leave me a thoughtful comment and I’ll enter you in the drawing. And don’t worry if you’ve never left a comment before (I’m always worried when I see giveaways and it’s my first time there). I love comments, I crave comments, I’m always checking to see if anybody has commented, and I always respond to comments. Don’t be shy, I’m quite friendly. So if you’re a friend, a neighbor, a blogger, a Cafe Mom-er, or here from a Google keyword search, go ahead and enter if you’d like to win a copy of this book. Enter before Tuesday morning, February 26th.


  1. Well, I was going to comment before you gave me extra incentive to do so. :) I appreciate this review because I’ve had this book on my list of books to read for a very long time. But I couldn’t remember anything about it and it’s often not available at the library so I hadn’t ever actually picked it up. I think I’ll try to pick it up soon.

    And is your book group with your ward? Or a more general one? I live in the Salt Lake Valley too and am curious about these things.

    on February 21st, 2008 at 7:43 pm
  2. I was on verge of buying this book in a book fair. As I had already bought a lot of books I stoped myself. I too liked the cover very much. And the book blurb. It really sounds good to me.

    Do count me in for the giveaway.

    on February 22nd, 2008 at 5:17 am
  3. Amira – Our neighborhood book club is through the church. We meet at our hosts home once a month, usually the third or fourth Tuesday. There are 3-5 of us and we have yummy treats. We’re in West Jordan and you are more than welcome to join us if interested. We are currently reading The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and meet this week to discuss it. I don’t think Rebecca, our host, has chosen the next few books yet. Let me know if you would like more information and I can email you.

    Guatami – Welcome, I visited your blog and added your to my reader. I look forward to browsing through your posts. I’ll count you in!

    on February 22nd, 2008 at 8:19 am
  4. I am all out of thoughtful comments this morning– but hope I can enter the giveaway anyway! Thank you.

    on February 22nd, 2008 at 8:20 am
  5. Karin – Don’t worry, I know what you mean! Of course I’ll enter you!

    on February 22nd, 2008 at 8:24 am
  6. [...] reviews Austenland by Shannon Hale and The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim [...]

    on February 22nd, 2008 at 12:02 pm
  7. I read this book last year, and really did not enjoy it. I tried SO hard to like at least one of the characters, but I just couldn’t… which made it very difficult for me to like the book. I also agree with you about waiting for something more to happen, and that the story could have been told in a LOT less pages. Something good, though, is it somehow kept me reading til the end, and when I really hate a book I can’t do that. So in retrospect, it couldn’t have been SO terrible…

    on February 22nd, 2008 at 9:29 pm
  8. I read this book last year for book club and while I didn’t like the book as much as you did, it made for an excellent discussion at book club.

    I was also incredulous that anyone could so quickly and easily give up their child and then NEVER talk about it again. Amazing.

    happy Sat. Review of Books!

    p.s. please don’t enter me, I already have the book.

    on February 23rd, 2008 at 5:03 am
  9. I agree that the book was a bit drawn out (particularly in the middle), but I think overall Edwards did a great job of exploring all the various points of view, digging deep to uncover motives. I have an amazing little niece with Down Syndrome and cannot imagine how anyone could not love her—but history proves that in the era of this book, many parents of disabled children believed their kids would be better off “with their own kind” and tended to by professionals. It horrifies me, but since so many people did it, I didn’t find it as difficult to accept that David–in his cultural context–would make that decision. What was unacceptable was that he didn’t tell his wife–and I appreciated how Edwards delves into his background to explain why he might have (mistakenly) believed it was in Norah’s (and his) best interest. People are SO complex and rarely know why they do what they do!

    In any case, the book sure provided a lot of food for thought, and I loved that it portrayed Phoebe growing up into a beautiful, passionate young woman. Also, as a writer struggling with a novel of my own, I have a soft spot for first novels–and this one was especially noteworthy.

    I have the book, too, so no need to consider this an entry–I just wanted to talk again about this moving book! Thanks for your review.

    on February 23rd, 2008 at 11:21 am
  10. Heather – It is really hard to empathize with the characters when you just want to scream, “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!” at them through the pages.

    Deb – I can’t imagine living with a secret that big throughout your whole life. It would be hard.

    Mindy – What a great review! Glad we’ve come a long way in regards to institutionalizing those with disabilities. She did do a great job showing that Phoebe was no less a person than Paul. Does she have any other books yet? I shall have to research and find out.

    on February 23rd, 2008 at 3:05 pm
  11. I’ve been thinking I’d like to read this one. I would also like to hear more about your book club. I’m thinking about starting one myself, at our church, but everyone’s so busy. I’m not sure how to start and not sure how much participation I would get. Everyone thinks it’s a great idea until we come down to the details. . . where, when, how often, etc.

    on February 23rd, 2008 at 4:02 pm
  12. Sherry – Our book club is through our adult womens group at church. Rebecca is our group leader and she hosts it at her home once a month, usually the third or fourth Tuesday night (we meet monthly). We have between 3-5 people who participate with that number fluctuating like when we discussed Harry Potter. Rebecca takes book suggestions but she ultimately decides upon the book and usually will preread it to make sure the content is appropriate (we are a church group!). We have yummy treats and a lot of the times we bring our kids and they play. It’s relaxed and fun. I’ve enjoyed being part of a book club and have been participating for about 6 months now. You can see the books we’ve read since I joined up here. Good luck with getting yours started!

    on February 24th, 2008 at 1:30 pm
  13. I’d love to come to your group if it were a little closer, Natasha. A lot of people in our ward do have a book club, but it’s only for the established people in the ward.

    on February 28th, 2008 at 10:44 am
  14. Amira – I can’t imagine a book club through an LDS ward to be an exclusive activity, whether you are established or not. Express your desire to attend and see what happens! You are always welcome here!

    on February 29th, 2008 at 8:44 am
  15. My mother has this book, and I’ve been trying to decide whether I want to read it for ages. She said it was very, very sad, so I’ve sort of been waiting for a really cheerful day to pick it up. :)

    on March 6th, 2008 at 6:52 am
  16. Jenny – It’s sad in the beginning to think what a father could do to his own child and the consequences with living with that lie for his whole life. I don’t know how he did it.

    on March 6th, 2008 at 6:36 pm
  17. I just finished this book myself and found the motives to be thought-provoking. While I couldn’t ever accept what David did, I can almost understand it… almost. At least with the pain of June, he thought he was sparing them something. If he hadn’t built up such a wall, it might not have been so bad but I guess giving a child away tends to upset the conscience… I also kept wondering about Caroline and why she wouldn’t have come to Norah earlier. I understand she came to love Phoebe as her own and wanted to keep her but she should have come forward and Edwards never really explained how Caroline justified that. I was hoping that Rosemary would let Norah know sometime but there was a lot of exploration into emotions and not so much action. Not my normal kind of book but not bad, either.

    on March 8th, 2008 at 1:16 am
  18. Aria – Thanks for such a great review! If I was Caroline I don’t know how I could have done what she did. Sure, she loved Phoebe, she was protecting David, but she knew Norah genuinely grieved for this lost child, but yet she did nothing. A very thought provoking book.

    on March 8th, 2008 at 2:48 pm
  19. I came away from this one with mild disappointment. Overall I enjoyed the story–but I, too, was expecting something big to happen. I came here via your current bestsellers list and was surprised that this was at #1 again–but isn’t there a lifetime movie that just came out?

    on April 20th, 2008 at 4:29 pm
  20. I agree with Trish on this one, it was disappointing. I just found it hard to imagine that a father would allow his daughter to be taken away, and a husband would watch his wife continue to grieve.

    on April 27th, 2008 at 5:08 am
  21. I loved the book. The whole idea with vertigo and making decisions that seem to be the right ones for the sake of the family but in the end the decisions back fired. We are all filled with regrets about what could have been. One thing is for sure…you can’t have tunnel vision about morals and read this book. I loved each character for there flaws and their justifications of their own actions.

    on June 6th, 2008 at 2:45 pm
  22. I enjoyed the book, although I thought it was very drawn out. I thought that the writer used the phrase “warmth of the skin against . . .” so many times throughout the story that it became irritating after awhile. The story could have been told without so many descriptions of the “feel of her skin . . . or bones . . . or breath’, etc. etc.

    on July 15th, 2008 at 9:33 pm
  23. I’ve loved reading all the discussion points! Does anyone else think that the story would have been different if Phoebe had been born first? I think part of the reason that David was able to discount her so quickly is that she was such a surprise to him. David and Nora had invested a lot of love, hope and expectations on one baby. I think that if David had seen Phoebe first, he might not have been able to give her up, even after finding out that there was another baby coming.

    on November 5th, 2008 at 5:32 pm
  24. Whittney Mahle – That’s a really interesting point that you bring up. I’d like to think that you are right and that he would be accepting of Phoebe had she been the first born. But a part of me tells me that he would have still been disappointed, even if they had kept her.

    on November 6th, 2008 at 10:04 pm

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