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The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards June 1, 2007

Posted by pvccbookclub in Current Discussion.

Should we ever lie in an attempt to protect a loved one from grief? This is the book jacketquestion that haunts Dr. David Henry. While his wife, Norah, is in labor with their twins, he realizes that although his son is perfectly healthy, his daughter exhibits signs of Down syndrome. Hoping to save Norah from a lifetime of hardship and sadness, he tells her that their baby girl died in childbirth. In fact, he has asked his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby away to an institution. Caroline agrees, but decides instead to raise the baby as her own. David’s act has tragic consequences for his famiy: his wife is forever plagued by the death of her daughter, his son feels that he is a disappointment to his father, and David and Norah’s marriage is cold and distant. The choice David makes was one made of out of love and concern for his wife and marriage.  Did he make the right choice?

Discussion Questions:

1) David’s history is an important factor in his decision to give his daughter up to an institution. Discuss why his past led him to take such a drastic step.

2) If Caroline disagrees with David’s decision to give Phoebe to an institution, why doesn’t she say so? Was she right to raise Phoebe as her own? Should she have told Norah the truth from the beginning?

3) Contrast Paul and Phoebe’s quality of life. How do we determine why type of life is worth living?

4) Describe the connection between Caroline and David, how does his relationship differ with Norah, his wife?

5) What do you think Norah’s reaction would have been if David had been honest with her from the beginning? How might Norah have responded to the news that she had a daughter with Down’s Syndrome? How might each of their lives have been different if David had not handed Phoebe to Caroline that fateful day?