August 19, 2008

Book O' Mine The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Well, I did it. I actually completed a novel, a piece of fiction, a story for the fun of it. I don't read these things often. I usually choose nonfiction. Faction, I like to call it. It took me over an hour in Borders to pick this one out, I simply couldn't find a novel I thought I could read all the way through. This one had 400+ pages, I don't know what I was thinking. Well, the premise sounded good.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter (No pics, my computer is down, so here's a link.)

Here's the gist. A doctor, his pregnant wife and a nurse all meet at an office in a snowstorm and the nurse and doctor deliver the baby while the mother is put out. Only it turns out to be two babies and the second one is a little girl with Downs Syndrome. The doctor hands the baby to the nurse and tells her to take her to an institution. Then he tells his wife that the baby died. (Why he even mentioned there was another baby at that point, I don't know. The wife didn't know anyway, she had been gassed.) The nurse takes the babe to the institution but finds that she simply can't leave her there, so she raises the little girl herself. The doctor, we find out, had had a sister who died early of a heart problem and that is why he felt the desperate need to protect his wife from the pain of having a child who might have not lived long. And the story goes from there.

Very slowly. With a lot of adjectives. And sentences regarding things like the weather and the garden and the neighbors. About halfway through I began to get the distinct feeling that this author, Kim Edwards, was not going to take me on the thrill ride I was hoping for. More like a Merry-Go-Round. Or one of those sideshow carnival games where you spend a lot and walk away with a fluorescent orange plastic key chain.

For people who like to read novels because they like reading novels, though I can't speak for them, it seems this might be considered a good book. It wasn't bad. It's just that in order to keep my attention on a story I need some thrills or at least upbeat pleasant writing. This writing was a little cloudy for me, a little hazy and gray. Every couple of chapters the storyline switched from the doctor's family's lives to the nurse and little girl's life, only I hate to say it - I didn't care much what was happening in any of their lives. I only wanted the big day to come, or at least some tasty culmination to it. But it just kept going on despite the elephant in the living room. One inherited a house. One started a business. One got married. One got accepted to college. Yawn. One yawned.

What about - one discovered the secret letters and pictures in the filing cabinet? Or, one ran into her long lost child in the supermarket and didn't realize it? Or, one suspected she was adopted but couldn't prove it? Or one graduated with a degree in special education and ended up teaching his sister? Nah. That would be too edgy, too darn thrilling.


I should have taken the hint a few weeks ago when Terri walked by me reading at the pool:
"Hey Jen, how do you like that book so far?"
"Well, it's alright, I'm only halfway through. Did you read it?"
"Yeah." She said pinching her lips together, "You'll have to tell me how you liked it when you're done."
"Oh, that doesn't sound too good, Terri."
"Well, no...it's...alright. It's just - well, tell me when you're done."

Oh great. Only two hundred more pages of 'alright' to go.

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