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Memory Keeper’s Daughter sheds light on Down Syndrome

Tiny flecks of snow fell from an overcast sky, a thin blanket of white forming along the earth. By early morning, a blizzard forms and the force of nature decides the fate of the Henry family on a cold winter night in 1964.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter opens with a dilemma, presented to Dr. David Henry, that will change every aspect for the rest of his life. When a blizzard forces Henry to deliver his own twins, he is faced with a decision.

One child, born a healthy boy while the other, a girl, possessed the obvious symptoms of Down Syndrome. As Henry held his daughter in his hands, he knew that her condition would destroy his wife.

In that moment, he made the decision that would alter the course of his life. He handed his newborn daughter to Caroline Gill, his nurse and only witness present. Armed with instructions to leave the girl at a special clinic in a nearby town, Caroline instead chooses to run away and raise the baby as her own.

For the remainder of his life, Henry is haunted by the memory of his daughter and the knowledge of his deception. His wife and son, whom he had sought to protect when he sent his daughter away, were constantly conscious of the loss, but unable to place its source.

In his attempt to protect his family, Henry throws it into ruin. His marriage falls apart after years of misery and there is an ever-present breach in his relationship with his son.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter illustrates the trials families with Down Syndrome have faced throughout the past two decades. It sheds new light on the start of a struggle that has led to more progress with every year.

Author Kim Edwards reachs the height of her career with this book; its status as a New York Times Bestseller proves to be a first for her. Edwards’ previous works include a collection of short stories nominated for the Hemingway Award.

The descriptive qualities Edwards uses brings The Memory Keeper’s Daughter to life. With each new scene, it is as if the reader is a part of the story itself, presented with the intricate thoughts of the main characters and gives insight into the struggles of families dealing with Down Syndrome.

I would recommend this book to all audiences due to its ability to maintain the reader’s attention. As the story progresses and suspense and mystery unfold, it becomes impossible to put the book down.

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