Critical Overview The Memory Keeper’s Daughter The novel The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, by Kim Edwards, is a story of sadness and despair. Throughout the story the reasons and examples for why this happened are clear. Selfishness and lying prove to cause great pain and suffering throughout the story. These two also prove to be the cost of Dr. Henry’s death as he struggles with the decision whether to tell the secret of leaving his daughter for an orphanage. The book The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, by Kim Edwards, is based off of a true story. However, it is not directly related to the author.
The author, Kim Edwards was influenced because of a story told to her by her pastor about a man he knew whose brother had down syndrome. This man’s brother grew up in an institution since birth, which is not absolutely necessary for children born with down syndrome. She did not originally began writing the book when she heard the story, because she did not feel as though she knew enough about down syndrome to complete the book. However, a few years down the road, she was doing a writing workshop for adults who had various mental and physical disabilities, and the idea struck back in her head.
Following this, she began writing spontaneously finishing the first chapter rapidly, and then continuing at a normal pace for the rest of the book. She says, “I wrote it without a contract. I wrote it just because i wanted to write it. ” This shows the genuineness of why the author wrote the book, not doing it for money but for the right intentions. She does say that she thought it would be a good idea for a novel, but as stated previously she did not think she knew enough about down syndrome to complete the novel.
This is proven when she is asked if she expected it to be a sensation, “I had no idea. ” The author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is named Kim Edwards. Born in May of 1958, in the town of Killeen, Texas, she was born to be a writer. She began her collegiate studies at Auburn University. In 1981, she received her bachelor’s degree from Colgate University. Following this, she received a master’s degree from the University of lowa’s Writers’ Workshop. After this, she furthered her pedigree by earning her second master’s degree in linguistics which also came from the University of lowa.
In 1998, her work was an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and also won a Whiting Award and the Nelson. The novel, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, won Book of the Year in 2006, which is also what this paper is about. The content mentioned in paragraph one clearly illustrates why she wrote the book, and how it influenced her life. She not only made her name solidified in the field of writing, but also she wrote the book for the right reasons. The story told by the pastor influenced her although it did not come full circle until she went to a writing workshop and saw those who were disabled.
She then began to think that she could make the novel work. She started writing the book and finished the first chapter rapidly, and then finished at a slower pace. Thus it is clear that through the events in paragraph one she learned more about down syndrome, following this thus influenced her life in a positive way. The setting of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter starts in 1964, during an unusual Kentucky blizzard, twins are born to Dr. David and Norah Henry. One of which is a healthy baby, the other is unfortunately stricken with down syndrome.
The father leaves the baby to be adopted, telling the mother that the baby girl had died during birth, and that the son was healthy. The father has to live with this decision for the rest of his life. Living everyday life knowing that he left a child that was his, and made an immoral decision to let the child go. This causes trouble as Norah wants another child down the road, even though she has one that she does not know about.
This causes a struggle in their love life as the mother does not feel at home in the place where her baby “died. As the married couple tried to make the marriage work, they moved on to another home. However, the difficulty continues but it is not the mother’s fault, it is because David, fearing that another ill child would be born with defect, did not want to have another child. Norah continues to drink silently as the years go by, and the relationship becomes even rockier, until finally Norah has an affair. Knowing that he had not told the truth for a majority of their marriage causing the distance between the two, David blames this on himself.
Trying to take his mind off of these things, he begins to spend more and more time in his darkroom developing pictures and distancing himself away from his wife and family. Finally, David gets the courage to tell his now exwife about Phoebe, the down syndrome baby who he gave away. However he dies of a heart attack before he is able to do so. The symbolism is that since the husband, Dr. Henry kept the lies to himself, he caused pain and affliction on his family. Thus, Dr. Henry’s selfish desires costed him not only his happiness and a healthy conscience, but also costed him his family, and his life.
Critical response of this novel was tremendously successful, adding prestige to the book. Jodi Picoult said the book gave the book tremendous praise, touting the skills of Kim Edwards. She quotes “Kim Edwards has created a tale of regret and redemption, of honest emotion, of characters haunted by their past. This is simply a beautiful book. ” She goes so far as to say she cannot wait for her next book to be released. In addition, Sena leter Naslund put forth an extended review of praise. Saying she read into the “wee hours” of the night. She says that it is everything a reader could want.
From the intense struggle between telling the truth, and the struggle Dr. Henry has with his own conscience, it is easy to see why these two critics had such positive reviews. Dr. Henry did not think of his daughter, son, wife or most importantly, the happiness of his down syndrome baby. He did not fully think through what his selfish desires would cause for him and his family. As stated previously, lying as well as selfish pride can cause a great deal of pain. Although at the time it seems like a fix that will have no consequences, it will have a greater effect on the person then he or she could ever have imagined.