On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split-second decision that will alter all their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. Bur Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this beautifully told story that unfolds over a quarter of a century—in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that long-ago winter night. Norah Henry, who knows only that her daughter died at birth, remains inconsolable; her grief weighs heavily on their marriage. And Paul, their son, raises himself as best he can in a house grown cold with mourning. Meanwhile, Phoebe, the lost daughter, grows from a sunny child to a vibrant young woman whose mother loves her as fiercely as if she were her own.
A brilliantly crafted, stunning debut, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter articulates a silent fear close to every parent: What would happen if you lost your child, and she grew up without you? Rich, compulsively readable, and deeply moving, the novel explores the way life takes unexpected turns, and how the mysterious ties that hold a family together help us survive the heartache that occurs when long-buried secrets burst into the open. Yet it is also an astonishing tale of redemptive love.