In this novel, author Kim Edwards tells a story of regret and atonement. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter opens on a night of a blizzard in 1964 where Dr. David Henry is forced to deliver his wife’s baby as a result. Unbeknownst to him, his wife is pregnant with twins. Dr. Henry’s nurse, Caroline, is there to help him deliver both of the babies. The first baby delivered is a healthy baby boy. When the second baby comes, a girl, he realizes right away she has Down’s syndrome. In the 1960’s, it was still assumed that babies with Down’s syndrome didn’t live long, healthy lives and had heart trouble. These thoughts filled Dr. Henry’s head as he looked at his daughter. His wife was still asleep from the drugs administered to her during labor, and she was also unaware she was pregnant with twins. He makes a rash decision that will change his family’s life forever. He hands the daughter to his nurse and asks her to take the baby to an institution. Caroline reluctantly agreed to take the baby girl for him.
She took the daughter and she drove the long drive to the institution. When she gets there, she sees the conditions of the facility and wonders if her conscience will allow her to leave this baby girl there. She decides to take the baby and raise her as her own child. Dr. Henry finds this out and asks that she keep in touch with him about the baby girl, who was named Phoebe. Dr. Henry tells his wife, Norah, that she had given birth to twins but there were complications with the second baby and it died at birth. Norah became very depressed, wondering what her life would be like if she had been able to raise both a boy and a girl. They have a funeral service for the baby girl, but Norah still feels it eating away at her.
This book switches back and forth between the two different families, Caroline with Phoebe, and Dr. Henry with his wife and son. We see into the lives of Dr. Henry’s family and how the secret he has kept is tearing away at him and his family. We also get to see Phoebe grow into a young adult and how Caroline fights for the rights for her daughter to be treated as any other human. This story is heartbreaking and wonderful. It’s a very captivating and fascinating read. As you read it you will feel so much emotion for all the different characters in the book. Kim Edwards writes in a very beautiful way that will keep you wanting to read more and more to find out what happens to each character.