Review: The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards

 A 401 page slog. This book could have been half the length it is and we still would have got the point loud and clear.


I was so prepared to enjoy this book. The premise sounded interesting: a father takes the heartbreaking decision to give away his baby daughter due to his inability to cope with the fact that she has Down's syndrome, keeping her twin brother and convincing his wife that the girl died at birth, tearing the family apart forever.


My beef with the story is that if any the characters had simply communicated with each other it would have saved a whole lotta time and emotion. The whole thing just felt so contrived and unbelievable from the get go. The father sinks every relationship he has all down to his inability to tell the truth. His photography adventure as some ridiculous metaphor as secret-keeper is simply bizarre. Photography is a form of expression and communication, not a vehicle for mystery and hidden truths .... It just didn't work for me.

For a book with such a loaded subject matter, promising to be an emotional roller coaster it was incredibly clunky and cold. The characters all spun around each other with no connection whatsoever. Even Caroline's relationship felt dead in the water. I understand that the characters are supposed to be drifting apart due to the elephant in the room of the supposed death of their infant daughter but it would feel more real if it seemed like anyone actually truly gave a fuck. It's easy to forget where the root of their demise is as the plot seems to lose some steam around half way through particularly in regards to the Henry family. I seriously tired of what was basically descriptions of the same scene repeated continuously: David refusing to engage and Norah retreating into herself and her work over and over and over again gets real dull after a very short time.


As the characters descend further and further into cliches and the whole thing begins to take on a tinge of lifetime movie, the one character wh I would have liked to have heard from, but who unfortunately is never given a voice is Phoebe, the family's secret daughter being raised by David's former employee, Caroline. I appreciate that it may be difficult to portray the condition of Down's syndrome accurately and believably in a first person narrative but omitting this does, in my opinion, leave a massive gap in the story. And anyway, how tricky is it to do some research, spend some time with someone like Phoebe and translate this into a genuine character creating a more rounded story?


Leaving Phoebe silent changed the focus of the novel. Instead of creating a positive subplot of Phoebe's development and happy life with Caroline, the whole thing turned into a giant black hole of misery and despair as we only heard one negative after another of the family deteriorating and Caroline struggling to make ends meet and find a place for herself in the world. How depressing!


I don't want to sink into a depression as I read a book, feeling as if every bad decision I make will impact on my life negatively forever more, destroying every glimmer of happiness I experience and breaking down every relationship I have with anyone I ever loved until I don't even deserve to live on this planet anymore and I may as well just stay in bed not interacting with anyone or anything until the day I die I case I do something that I can never come back from ..... Okay I exaggerate a little but The Memory Keepers Daughter is such an until struggle with no light at the end of the tunnel that is just not worth it. Don't do it to yourself.