On March 7th 1964, Dr Henry delivers his twins, and while his wife is under sedation, decides to give away the ‘imperfect‘ twin, born with Down’s Syndrome.
Phoebe, the twin with Down’s Syndrome is sent to an institution. Here’s what the institution was like.
Dr Henry tells his wife they had a still born daughter and a healthy son. She wanted to hold the baby once, visit the grave and hold a Memorial Service… She was advised to ‘move on’, and to focus on the child she had.
‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter’ by Kim Edwards touched a chord.
Most of us have clear guidelines laid out for exactly what can make us happy. Who we marry, who we divorce, who we raise, who we abandon, what careers we choose, who we respect and whose opinions, feelings or wishes we can’t be expected to take seriously (like a child with Down’s syndrome)…
I liked this scene.
We expect happiness to come from success in career, being married at the right time, to a conventionally suitable partner and raising perfectly formed, class toppers and merit listed kids. Anything less could only mean disappointments and frustration?
Watch the trailer. (I hope the movie is as good as the book). Read the book. And think again.
The book is about women, men, children and families who fit, and those who don’t fit, into the ‘fit-to-be-happy‘ mold.
The book is also about some of us controlling the lives of some others amongst us. Phoebe’s mother longs for another baby but once again has no say in the matter. All with best of intentions to protect her from any further unhappiness (i.e. another imperfect child). For her own good. Her sister’s life shows how life is still a choice each one of us makes.
The book is also about women’s changing lives as they learn to break the norms and take control of their own lives.
And about how little (or how much) our happiness depends on how conventionally perfect our lives are.