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Jo'Burg Days: The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Barbara Durlacher reviews the novel The Memeory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.


“The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards is set in small-town America of the 1960s, is a sensitive and gently penetrating study of social attitudes towards children afflicted with Down’s syndrome at a time when they were viewed as unfit for normal society.

This is a heart-warming story of one woman’s determined efforts to give her daughter a normal life and be accepted by her peers. It traces the effects on a family of a fateful decision taken by the father in his attempts to save his wife the sadness and worry of living with a “retarded” child who did not come up to what at that time were considered normal sandards.

Perceptively tracing the course of two families, both intimately associated with Down’s syndrome children, it explores the effects a hasty and unwise decision can have on the futures of a number of people, bringing joy to some and misery and unhappiness to others.

The book shows how changes in understanding can ultimately lead to acceptance and happiness. But before this equilibrium is achieved, a destructive downward spiral of unhappiness and self-blame ultimately leads to the break-up of a family.

A lovely read on a subject seldom explored, written by a master story teller with a gift for beautiful expression and a sensitive understanding of what makes people tick.


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