Book Club Reviews A Memory Keeper’s Daughter

Last night, we had Book Club at a local Mexican restaurant (the cheese! the margaritas!), and we talked about The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards.

Book Title: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
Author: Kim Edwards
Publication Date: 2006
Genres: Adult Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 3.6 Stars 
Book Club Rating3.5 Stars

This novel received mixed reviews from the group… Some of us (me!) thought it was deep-thinking and posed some interesting questions, while others thought it was just too sad and annoying (most of the other people). Granted, I didn’t like the main characters very much, but as I read more novels, I’ve learned to appreciate stories outside of whether I like the main characters or not. 

A #1 New York Times bestseller by Kim Edwards, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is a brilliantly crafted novel of parallel lives, familial secrets, and the redemptive power of love.

Kim Edwards’s stunning novel begins on a winter night in 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this beautifully told story that unfolds over a quarter of a century—in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that winter night long ago.

A family drama, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter explores every mother’s silent fear: What would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you? It is also an astonishing tale of love and how the mysterious ties that hold a family together help us survive the heartache that occurs when long-buried secrets are finally uncovered.

1. The premise. Ok, so reading the back cover is pretty interesting. The story is set in a time period we don’t usually read (1960s-70s), and the idea of a doctor giving up his newborn is intriguing. I think it was executed well, and showed an interesting parallel between someone who makes the wrong decision (Dr. Henry) vs. someone who makes the right decision (Caroline).

2. The time period. We don’t usually see novels set in this time period, especially ones about normal people (and not hippies/drug users). I found it interesting to see the expectations of women at that time. It seems like the 60s weren’t that long ago, but women still had crazy expectations on them. Also, watching Caroline fight for Phoebe’s right to an education was so exciting for me.

1. The Henry Family. So the decision that Dr. Henry makes and the lies he conceals undeniably pulls his family apart. We all found ourselves shouting at the book, “Just tell them already!” There were so many “What If” moments in this novel… What if they had kept Phoebe? What if Dr. Henry had told his wife the truth? What if Caroline hadn’t kept Phoebe? I liked this aspect, but most of the group thought it was frustrating.

2. The sad. This book is a tough book. It’s not easy to get through. There’s a lot of heartbreak, hurting each other, and tough decisions. Eventually, the novel wrapped up well, but getting to the end was emotionally draining.

“Why can’t we ever read fluffy books?”
– Simone
“But I really liked this one!”
– Me

9 thoughts on “Book Club Reviews A Memory Keeper’s Daughter

  1. I read this book a few summers ago on the beach. I loved it but the ending really got me. I need to join a book club so I can drink margaritas and talk about good books!!!


  2. I can see immediately this is not the book for me. I don't read much fiction and I know I would not want to read something that posed the question “What would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you?” Ay yi yi…sound too sad for me.


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