The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards -- Book Review

"In the silence David started talking again, trying to explain at first about the snow and the shock and the scalpel flashing in the harsh light. How he has stood outside himself and watched himself moving in the world. How he had woken up every morning of his life for eighteen years thinking maybe today, maybe this was the day he would put things right."

I actually bought this book as a Christmas present for my mother, but decided I had to read it before I wrapped it up and hid it under the tree. This book is about choices, secrets, moments that alter your life forever. We live everyday, wake up, go to work or school, eat lunch, meet people, but how much of what we do will be forgotten tomorrow? next week? a year from now? The vast majority of the moments we live are mundane. Yet, every once in a while, a day comes along that alters everything, that makes you look back and think:

What if he had gotten me pregnant when we were all hot and heavy back in high school?

What if I had applied to Harvard and Yale instead of playing it safe and staying in state?

What if I took that job in New York that paid crap instead of going into the family business?

What if I had said yes when he proposed? What if I had said no?

The choices that define our lives don't come along very often. For David, one moment, one (wrong?) decision sends his life into a tailspin that he never come to terms with. It weighs him down for over two decades and echoes in his death as his family deals with the aftermath. The Memory Keeper's Daughter explores the impact and unintended consequences a single decision can have. The prose is elegant, almost like poetry and for the first half of the book I was enchanted. The end seemed to drag where the beginning had flown smoothly, but overall I enjoyed the story and the gentle observations it made very much. Edwards offers a stark picture of why the question of "What if?" is never as simple as it seems.

This book has also been made into a Lifetime made-for-TV-movie, which I have not seen, but in looking for a video clip to go along with this post I saw a few scenes from the film. I did not feel that those I watched were an accurate portrayal of the tone or events in the novel, so I chose not to link to them here. If anyone has both read the book and seen the movie, I'd be interested to hear how they compare.

Buy The Memory Keeper's Daughter at


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