Friday, February 21, 2014

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

This was a beautifully written, melancholy novel.  It was published back in 2005, but I recently came across a recommendation for it on a book blog, so I added it to my ginormous "want to read" list & finished it not too long ago.

The undercurrent of sorrow in the story really draws you in - it's almost mesmerizing.  It's also a story that reminds you to release any regrets you may have about decisions you've made throughout your life.  It shines a glaring light on the consequences of holding on to pain.  Through her characters, Kim Edwards weaves a complex tale of loss, grief, and the dangers of allowing regret to set up shop in your mind.  She writes like a poet, and at times you can feel overwhelmed with the raw emotions she's so adept at wringing out of these flawed and realistic character's she's created.

The gist of the plot is about a family who grows around an awful secret, known only to the father.  It affects every one of them, and not always in positive ways.  The main character of David is so damaged, but he puts on a polished charade for the world.  He never lets even those he loves most past the wall he's built up around himself.  As you get deeper and deeper into their story, the inevitable connections you make as a reader start to take on a theme.

For me, the take away message was a two-parter.  First, it's inevitable that you'll experience some kind of loss in your lifetime.  If you hold the pain caused by that loss close to you, and nourish it by holding it in, it will create a nice warm and enticing place for emotional decay to take root and fester.  Nobody wants that.

Second, if you waste your energy and time on feeding feelings of regret, the consequences to you and all of those you love will be disastrous.  Feeding regret will ruin the life you have by encouraging the deceptive "what-ifs" to invade your consciousness.  When you cradle the past and percieved mistakes by carrying them around with you, it does nothing but violate the life you have.  Wow, I just reread what I've written and it's pretty intense.  A little departure from my usual yapping.  Definitely not a light, airy read, this one!

Despite the heavy, mournful undertone of this book, it was superbly written, with sharp insights into some of the more somber human emotions.  Something every last one of us can relate to, unfortunately.  And when all is said and done, you aren't left feeling disheartened.  I was content with how she concluded things.  It was realistically poignant, but also somehow managed to maintain hopefulness within the sorrow.  That's the mark of a good story!

So if you decide to take this one on, which I definitely recommend, get ready to go on a ride.  I think I might need to read a Hiaasen now!  If you've never read Carl Hiaasen, he's a "must experience at least once" author.  And if you read him once, you'll read him again.  His books are basically the polar opposite of this type of story.  He usually sets his novels in Florida, and they have all sorts of corruption, wacky characters, and snarky humor.  Yep, I think that's what I need after Kim Edwards' pensive, but brilliant story - which put me through the wringer!  I hope you like it if you decide to give it a go!

Ta-ta for now.

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