Sunday, November 30, 2008

Book Review

I wanted to just make a few observations about The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which I read almost a month ago. It's not the phenomenal writing that has kept this book on my mind, but some of the things it has made me think of. I wanted to enumerate a couple of the ideas that have really affected me.

1st - This book begins with the birth of twins, one of which has Down's Syndrome. The doctor who delivers the babies, and is also the father, makes a choice to institutionalize the baby girl with Down's. He makes this choice without his wife's consent. He tells his wife the baby died.

While his choice to institutionalize the child is probably a normal thing during that time period, the perpetuation of a lie is what strikes me the most. The lie becomes an element in their lives that tears things apart.

I value honesty and the truth. I believe that even though the path may seem difficult when telling the truth, it is still ten times easier than the path with the lie. I love this quote:

We tell lies when we are afraid... afraid of what we don't know, afraid of
what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every
time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger

2nd - The mother of the twins spends time grieving for the loss of her 'dead' baby girl. She feels the loss deeply without ever having touched her child. The loss of her baby girl makes her expect further loss and hurt at every turn. The mother becomes protective of her baby boy that has lived. She worries and becomes overprotective.

I really liked how this idea was conveyed in the book. I took a good long look at my personal paranoia's. I have them because I have experienced loss that I thought could never happen. I have survived the loss, but I recognize more fully that bad things happen to good people. Even me. And knowing that, makes me worry that it will happen again.

While there wasn't a solution for not worrying, at least I gained a better recognition for why I am the worry wart that I am.

3rd - The nurse in the story who is instructed to institutionalize the baby girl ends up keeping the baby. The nurse takes this opportunity to have her own baby and leaves the state to raise the baby, knowing that the mother thinks the child is dead.

My personal view is that of contempt for the nurse. Yes, better to raise the child in love than in a facility. But so wrong to deny the mother the knowledge of her child for the nurse's desire. The doctor/father's secret should have been rectified between the nurse and mother (which it is too many years later).

I know the desire to have children. I know the thought process that says "this child is better off with me." And I know how hard it is to give up what you want most to ensure that you are not taking advantage of another woman. It's complicated and difficult, but sleeping at night is so much easier.

That's just a few personal thoughts on this book. It was a little long, a little depressing - but valuable to me anyway. Let me know if you've read it and what you think.

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Taffy said...

The book takes on a different perspective when I think about it through your eyes. You have lost a child and been caught in a web of lies as well. I'm so sorry for what you have been through! Thanks for your insightful book review.

tammy said...

I read this book and didn't get out of it nearly what I got out of your review. Ditto to Taffy's statement. It's all about perspective and yours really made me think.