I’m really not a big fan of the drama genre. I’m escapist by nature, and straight drama (*coughoprahsbookclubcough*) is really not my cup of tea.
This is why there are books in this genre that have been languishing in my TBR, because I’m reluctant to read them and I have to space them out.
I picked up Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (book #68 for 2009) because it’s not very thick and I figured I’d make a dent on this sector of my TBR.
I’d been forewarned by my Flipper friend Islandhopper that the book was highly dramatic, so I was prepared for the worst when I picked it up.
I find that there are some books that are very thick but I can read fast, like The Historian, and some thin books that take me forever to finish, like The Reader. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is somewhere in between, it wasn’t very thick, but it wasn’t moving quickly enough for me.
The novel unfolds in 1964, and Dr. David Henry’s wife Norah gives birth to twins in the middle of a blizzard. The second baby, a girl, has Down’s syndrome, and Dr. Henry decides to spare his wife from the difficulty of raising a special child and instructs his nurse, Caroline Gill, to take the baby to a special facility. Caroline is horrified by the institution she brings the baby too and decides to raise the baby on her own. Meanwhile, the pain of losing a child devastates Norah, adding another layer to the wall that has formed in their marriage, caused by the guilt Dr. Henry feels from giving their daughter away.
I think the premise, up until Caroline raising the baby on her own, is pretty interesting, actually. I imagine this sort of scenario did happen a lot in the past, when Down’s syndrome wasn’t very well understood yet, and I imagine there are still some cases of this happening today.
Mainly it’s the melodramatic development of the story that brings it down, because it’s a drawn out domestic drama, spanning two decades of misery and emotional lashing in the Henry household, with nothing much happening otherwise.
While it wasn’t as bad as I expected — I even cried a bit at the end, but well, I can cry at the drop of a hat so I’ve never put stock in a book’s tearjerking abilities — it was nothing spectacular for me either, and I don’t think there’s a chance that I’ll read it again.
My copy: trade paperback, mooched last year
My rating: 2/5 stars
P.S. By the time you read this, I’ll be in the mountains of Sagada soaking up some fresh air, great food, and a whole lot of culture :) I’ve advanced some posts, I hope you’ll enjoy reading them while I’m gone, and I’ll get back to comments when I get back in the city.