Monday, March 10, 2008

Finishing The Memory Keeper's Daughter

-- By Miranda

Sometimes people do the wrong things for what they believe are the right reasons. In Atonement, Briony believed that Robbie was a sex fiend, so she used her imagination to fill in the blanks after Lola was attacked. In Gone Baby Gone, every single character does the wrong thing in an attempt to put everything right. In The Memory Keeper's Daughter, David Henry gives away his daughter, born with Down syndrom, because he thinks this will spare his wife pain. Nobody is right, but nobody is really entirely wrong. It's this morally ambiguous theme that I find very interesting in stories, whether they be novels or films.

But Memory Keeper doesn't really rate up there with Atonement and Gone Baby Gone (which I just saw this weekend, that's why it's fresh in my mind [also, you should rent it, it's good]). The choice the doctor makes in the book is so clearly wrong, whereas in GBG, there really isn't a right answer (I'm being intentionally vague where the movie is concerned, I don't want to give anything away). He gives his daughter away to the nurse, to save his wife pain. He had a sister with a heart condition that died young, and people with Down syndrome often have heart problems. So, his reasoning is somewhat understandable. But he tells his wife that their daughter died, as though that wouldn't be painful. At least he just didn't give her away because she was mentally handicapped, I don't think I could have read the whole story. The character would have been completely different, more evil instead of just confused. Also, the repercussions of the secret are deep and do effect everyone in the story, but perhaps not as catastrophically as the lie in Atonement. But perhaps my views are a little biased, because Atonement is my favorite book I've read so far this year. Maybe if I had read Memory Keeper first I would have liked it better.

The ending I felt was a little anticlimactic. Maybe that's because it had a somewhat happy ending, which really isn't what I thought would happen based on the premis of the novel. Of course, as Abby pointed out in the comments for my first entry about Memory Keeper, the description did say something about the "redemptive power of love," so I knew I was looking at a happyish ending. I guess I could go on for a while, but I won't.

The reviewers on Amazon have given this book 3 stars out of five. That sounds about right.

Now, on to Middlesex!

No comments: