The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Make this your next book club selection and everyone saves. Get 15% off when you order 5 or more of this title for your book club. Simply enter the coupon code EDWARDSMEMORY at checkout. This offer does not apply to eBook purchases. This offer applies to only one downloadable audio per purchase. A #1 New York Times bestseller by Kim Edwards, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is a brilliantly crafted novel of parallel lives, familial secrets, and the redemptive power of love Kim Edwards’s stunning novel begins on a winter night in 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. 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 winter night long ago. A family drama, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter explores every mother's silent fear: What would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you? It is also an astonishing tale of love and how the mysterious ties that hold a family together help us survive the heartache that occurs when long-buried secrets are finally uncovered.
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Below is a short video on imagery. After watching the clip, notice all of the imagery used by the author throughout the novel. (This annotation contains a video)
In the highlighted paragraph, what does the author achieve by her use of imagery?
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Based on Dr. Henry's reaction to his wife's proclamation that she may be in labor, which of the following seems to be true about him?
Foreshadowing is a technique used by an author to gesture toward something that will happen in the future. It is like a hint of something to come. Does the highlighted text seem like it may be a hint of things to come?
Dr. Bentley was in an accident and won't be coming. What impact will this have on the events about to take place?
A simile is a figure of speech comparing two things using the words "like" or "as." Here, the author compares the melted snow in Mrs. Henry's hair to a diamond tiara. Be on the lookout for more similes as you read.
Imagine the surprise of not knowing it was twins until the time of delivery! Today, women generally know ahead of time if they are having multiples.
Which of the following is the best summary of the delivery?
The nurse has reluctantly agreed to take the baby girl to a home and drop her off to be taken care of for the rest of her life.
Dr. Henry sent his daughter away to spare his wife the grief his own mother suffered because of his sister. Now, instead of telling his wife the truth, he has told her that the baby died. Do you think he was justified in his decision to give his daughter away and lie to his wife? Be sure to support your answer.
Much like a simile, an author can make a comparison of two unlike objects without the use of "like" or "as." This is known as a metaphor. Here, the author compares Caroline being born to a flower blooming through the snow. Unexpected, yet welcome.
What does the highlighted text suggest about Caroline?
Note how Caroline feels about her life. She seems to feel that she is destined to do something great, but she's never been sure of exactly what it was that she was supposed to do.
The highlighted text is an example of which of the following literary devices?
The author gives a very detailed description of the home where Dr. Henry wants his daughter to be left. Think about the tone of this paragraph. Does it sound like this would be a good place for a baby?
Caroline says that she has "been waiting for a long time." What do you think she means by this? What has she been waiting for?
The text states that the rush of cold air was "as astonishing as being born." Could this be the author's way of saying that Caroline is starting over (being born)? What might this mean?
Which of the following is not an example of how the setting of this story impacted the plot so far?
Caroline will not be able to go anywhere because her battery is dead in her car from leaving the lights on for too long. She will be stuck there unless she can find help.
Which of the following lines does not contain a simile?
David has to lie to his wife again to cover for the lie he told her about the death of their daughter.
Which of the following is the best comparison of Norah and Bree?
The author uses the dialogue, or conversation between the two sisters, on this page to show that Bree is worried about her sister and that she feels that David should be home with her more.
In literature, the moon can be a reminder of the passage of time and that all things, like the moon's phases, must change. In this case, the reference to the moon is an example of symbolism.
Based on what you have seen of Norah since the birth of her children, what would be the best description of her current state?
What an extremely awkward situation for the women to be in, especially during the 1960s, when people tended to be a little more "proper" than we sometimes are today.
What is Bree's attitude toward David?
Through planning the memorial service, Norah has once again "found herself" and is able to begin to resume her life.
Why is David so upset hat Norah is planning the memorial service?
Think about what options Caroline has in this situation. What would you do if this were you?
What seems to be the best summary of this situation?
What are the neighbors going to think when Caroline suddenly comes home with a baby?
Why might it be a problem if Al noticed there was no crib?
Below is a short video on pacing in novels. After watching the video, think about the pacing of this novel. How would you describe the pacing of this novel? (This annotation contains a video)
How has Caroline begun to change since leaving with Phoebe?
Despite the fact that he sent his daughter away to live in a home, Caroline still believes that Dr. Henry is good at heart and will want to raise his daughter.
Based on the information given, which is the best example of Dr. Henry's internal conflict?
Below is a short video describing parallel plot. After watching the video, keep parallel plot in mind while reading the rest of this novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Even though Dr. Henry sent his child away and told his wife the baby died, Caroline still feels compassion for him. List at least two examples of evidence from the last section that show that Caroline feels sympathetic toward Dr. Henry.
This description creates an almost angelic image of Phoebe.
The highlighted sentence is an example of which type of figurative language?
Clearly, Norah has not recovered from the loss of her daughter, and she is still struggling with grief.
Why might David be eager to sell their house and leave it behind?
David seems to be working many hours at his new job. It's probably tough on his wife not having him at home much.
Which of the following does not describe the tone of the last several paragraphs?
Consider how Norah felt about herself before she met David. It is easy to see how he was able to sweep her off her feet.
Cameras were very different from what we use today.
The author repeats the word "remember" many times in this paragraph while describing Norah's accident. What does she achieve by repeating this word?
Even though he is gone much of the time, David still worries about and cares for Norah, as can be seen by his concern when she is missing.
Even though Norah does not want to sell their old house, she agrees to call and accept the offer. Why does she agree?
The author chooses to use the word "lost" here when referring to their daughter. Think about why might she have chosen to use that specific word.
Which of the following lines contains a metaphor?
Without references or any information about the past, it would be very difficult for Caroline to find a job.
Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21, altering the course of development and causing the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm, although each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.
What might be the reason that Caroline is unable to send the letter to Dr. Henry?
While Caroline is probably relieved to have a permanent job, she is not sure where her decisions have brought her.
What do the highlighted lines tell you about Caroline?
Leo probably has early stages of Alzheimer's or dementia, even though they really didn't know much about this in 1965.
This statement takes Caroline by surprise. Which of the following would not be a reason why she was so surprised by these words?
Caroline is shocked to find out that it was so easy for Al to find her, when she thought she had practically "disappeared."
Why is Caroline so excited that Phoebe has grabbed Al's medallion?
The doctors could not determine what exactly was wrong with his sister. Think about what impact that made on David's life, both as a child and as an adult.
Which type of figurative language has the author used in this paragraph?
If someone were to look at the picture that David took, it would look as though everything in their lives were perfect, even though it was not.
Which of these lines is likely to be an example of foreshadowing?
The short video below describes tension in a novel. Notice how the author creates tension with the dialogue between Norah and David, as well as by telling us David's thoughts. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is not an example of how David's lie affects the plot of the novel?
There are many examples of conflict in this novel. David has many internal conflicts, as does Norah. There is also much external conflict between the two of them. As you read, notice whether the external conflicts between Norah and David escalate or diminish.
Through David's memories, the author reveals a great deal about his childhood. Which of the following is not true about David's childhood?
As a child, David had a great deal of responsibility taking care of and looking after his sister. Think about how this may have shaped who he became as an adult.
What is revealed about David through the description of his childhood?
When someone is terribly allergic to something, anaphylaxis can occur when they are near that trigger. Symptoms can range from itching and swelling, to swallowing and breathing difficulties, as well as various other reactions. If the reaction is severe enough, it can even lead to death.
Consider how Norah was described at the beginning of the novel. Has she changed, or is she still basically the same? Use details from the text to support your answer.
Norah thought she was being invited and accepted for herself; however, she realizes that Kay only wants her to attend so that Paul can sing with her daughter.
Norah feels envious of Bree. Back at the school, she felt envious of Kay. What is it that causes her to have such envy of these women?
Four students were shot and killed as the National Guard tried to calm protests over the Vietnam War. This sparked protests at other locations across the country.
Norah has developed several ways to cope with her depression. Which of the following does not describe a way she tries to cope with her problems?
As you watch the short video below on static and dynamic characters, try to decide which type of character Norah is. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following lines contains a metaphor?
Consider what has happened to Norah. Think about what conclusion about her life she has just reached.
What can you infer based on this incident?
Norah seems to be trying to tell her husband that she has value and has many talents; she feels that he doesn't realize that she can do many things. Since he is somewhat of a "protector," this may be hard for him to accept.
David believes that he wants to find Caroline and Phoebe and to tell Norah the truth. Do you believe this is true? Use details from the story to support your answer.
Think about Norah's extreme worry about Paul. Does it make sense that she should worry so much, considering what she's gone through?
Based on this conversation, as well as on past dialogues, how does Bree seem to feel about David?
Through this exchange, you can almost picture David and Norah talking. She is smiling the whole time, trying to keep up a happy appearance, but there is great tension between the two of them, nonetheless.
What does the highlighted text reveal about Norah?
It seems that whenever David thinks of June, he also thinks of Phoebe. The two seem to be very connected for him.
Which of the following does not describe the tone of the incident in the doctor's office?
In the past, women generally stayed at home and took care of the children and the home. Norah is trying to break free from that, and to discover some independence. David seems angry about her desire for freedom. Why might he feel that he isn't free?
David suffers from a great deal of guilt, while Norah is trying to find a way to move on from her grief. Neither character is overly kind to the other. Which character do you find the most sympathy for? Give at least two details from the story to explain why.
It's funny that even though there is no genetic connection between Caroline and Phoebe, people who do not know this seem to see connections and similarities.
Why might Caroline refuse to allow herself to get close to Al?
While today, there are laws that require that special education students be placed in the "least restrictive environment," meaning they are placed in the mainstream classes whenever possible, during this time, those laws weren't yet in effect. Caroline is fighting to allow Phoebe to receive a high-quality education, despite her differences.
How does Caroline's opinion of Phoebe compare with the vision Dr. Henry had of her when she was born?
If Al didn't love Phoebe as well, he probably wouldn't continue to come back, and he probably wouldn't bring gifts for Phoebe each time either.
Based on the text and your own knowledge, which is most likely not a reason that Caroline doesn't spend the money that Dr. Henry sends?
Imagine the nerve of this nurse, asking Caroline if she would rather let Phoebe die from the bee sting rather than calling the doctor to help her! This shows how some people felt about individuals with Down's Syndrome at this time.
Using the dictionary, think about the words "re-pose" and "repose." When the author writes that the word "repose [was] like a taunt," what does she mean?
Notice the contrast between Norah's days at work and her evenings at home.
This chapter jumps to 1977, when Paul is 13. Which of the following was probably not one of author's purposes for structuring the text in this way?
Notice that the author uses the word "lost" to describe their daughter again, as she did it earlier chapters.
The highlighted text is an example of which type of figurative language?
There is great imagery in this sentence.
A camera obscura would project an image seen through the lens onto a screen, similar to the one seen here. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best describes the tone of the highlighted paragraph?
There are many examples throughout the novel that show how Norah has changed. Has David changed as well?
Which of the following is the best description of David?
Juilliard is widely regarded as one of the world's leading music schools, with some of the most prestigious arts programs as well. It is highly competitive, with a 5-7% acceptance rate. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is David's reaction to Paul's rudeness ironic?
No matter what happens in his life, David feels that it is his fault because he gave away their daughter. Imagine the guilt he must feel. Think about how his life might have been different without this guilt.
Which of the following themes seems to be developing based on the highlighted text?
Is this why David is so interested in photography?
Based on the sections you have read about David, which of following themes seems to be developing?
It's easy to understand why Paul would be upset. His family is full of strife and tension.
Why is it ironic that Paul is envious of Duke's life?
Which of the following would not describe Paul?
Apparently, Paul shares some of the same emotion felt by his father, guilt. Even though he has done nothing wrong, he seems to bear some of the guilt for the things wrong in their lives.
Which of the following is not an example of Paul's internal conflict?
Imagine how upset David will be when he returns home to find this mess. He and Paul will likely drift further apart after this incident.
Given what we know about David and his feelings of guilt, is his reaction to the mess fitting with his character? Why or why not? Use details from the story to support your answer.
It's sad that it took this situation for David to share bits of his past with his son. If he had shared some of his stories and memories with Paul sooner, maybe things would have been different between them.
The author has woven two parallel plots, telling David's story, as well as Caroline's story. Which of the following seems to be true of both lives?
Think about the differences between Paul and his twin, Phoebe. Are the differences mostly because of her condition, because of their upbringings, or a combination of both?
Which of the following themes is highlighted in this section?
Is Phoebe the only one who doesn't like or want change? Sometimes, people make excuses. This seems like it could be one.
Which is the best summary of this situation?
Al must be an extremely understanding person to have been married to Caroline all these years and not have known the truth. Now that he does know, it doesn't seem to matter to him.
Which of the following best describes Phoebe here?
Think about how concerned Caroline is with Phoebe missing.
What does this incident reveal about Phoebe?
Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh (This annotation contains an image)
Why has Caroline come to the museum?
If Al was able to find Caroline, surely someone with the resources of Dr. Henry could have found her too. As he stated earlier in the novel, though, he felt that she would tell him where she was when she was ready.
Which of the following terms best describes Caroline's response?
Caroline is realizing that Dr. Henry has suffered a great deal of grief over Phoebe.
Why was David most likely hesitating before going back out to the crowd?
It was surely disappointing to Caroline to realize that Dr. Henry never cared for her, despite her love for him, and despite the huge favor he had asked of her, taking his daughter.
What does the author accomplish with the highlighted lines?
This action was seen by Caroline as dismissive of her and of the envelope. She took offense to his actions, and left the museum. It's interesting to see it from David's point of view. He tucked it "carefully" into his pocket, and his hands were trembling. Things aren't always what they seem.
The highlighted section supports which of the following themes?
What is David contemplating?
What might David be trying to accomplish by traveling back to his home?
Below is a short video on archetypes. A common archetypal situation is "The Journey." Think about the journey David is on. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following lines contains a simile?
David felt he was trying to spare Norah and Paul from grief. In reality, was it really them he was trying to spare?
David was asleep on the bed when Rosemary returned, and she tied him up so that he could not do any harm. Which of the following would not describe Rosemary?
It is strange that he decided to use his full name when he hasn't used it since he was a teenager.
David has kept this secret for all of these years. What might have made him tell Rosemary his deepest secret? Use details from the story to support your answer.
Below is a short video that demonstrates sherenschnitte. (This annotation contains a video)
Rosemary tells David that it's never too late. Is it too late for David to tell Norah the truth? Use proof from the novel to support your answer.
Paul is exaggerating here, which is an example of hyperbole. Watch the short clip below describing hyperbole. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is not a likely reason that David brought Rosemary back to his family's home?
Even though David and Norah don't have a close relationship anymore, she still has concern for him.
According to the evidence in the text, why does Paul feel envious of Rosemary?
This is probably one of the few times that Paul hears a compliment from his father about his music, even if it isn't coming directly from him.
Which of the following best describes the tone of this incident?
Considering all the pain Norah has caused the family with her behaviors over the years, it is ironic that she is condemning David for being gone and causing them grief and worry.
Based on the dialogue between David and Norah, which character is portrayed with the most negative language? Give examples from the text.
Paul's father is so different now that he has returned from his "disappearance," and Paul is sort of scared by the change. It completely catches him off guard when his father tells him that he is proud of him.
Which of the following best describes the tone of the highlighted paragraph.
This seems like maybe it could be foreshadowing.
What is so ironic about Norah's anger at David? Is she really angry with him, or is there someone or something else she might be angry about? Use details from the novel to support your answer.
Norah has realized something very important about herself.
What is the most likely reason that Bree never told Norah about her unhappiness all those years ago?
Paul is pretty upset when he thinks his father isn't coming.
What causes Norah's reaction to David's remarks?
The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani is a monastery near Bardstown, Kentucky. It is the oldest monastery in the United States that is still operating. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the author accomplish in the highlighted text through her use of imagery?
Norah seems to have forgiven David and to have let go of some of her grief, pain, and anger while she was in the church.
Why does David likely have such a connection with Jack?
Rosemary seems to have turned her life around compared to how David found her.
What has happened to David over the last several years? How has he changed? Use details from the novel to support your answer.
Will David take her advice?
What do the highlighted lines reveal about David's character?
David acts like a father-figure to Rosemary in many ways.
The highlighted lines are likely an example of which of the following?
How will Norah react when she hears this news after all this time?
At Caroline's, David watched through the window, but never entered. In the duplex, David watched Jack from the door, but never entered for fear of intruding. At the concerts, he watches Paul, but never makes himself known. What does this reveal about him?
David fixed something he had intended to fix for a long time, even though it was not what he had gone there to fix.
Which of the following best describes Norah and Paul's relationship?
Even though he has passed away, Bree still does not seem fond of David.
Norah still seems to blame David for all of the problems in their lives. Is it fair of her to blame him, or does she share the blame? Explain using details from the novel.
Paul is so happy to see his mother. How will he react to the news of his father's death?
Sadly, Paul and David did not see things the same way. David felt as though he tried to reach out to Paul, but Paul always left. Paul feels he tried to reach out to David, and that it didn't work.
Which of the following best describes the "wall" that Norah is speaking of?
Norah has changed a great deal from the beginning.
What does Norah mean by the highlighted line?
Is Frederic talking about Paul?
What can you infer about Robert?
Imagine the surprise that Caroline feels, but also probably guilt for not ever allowing Phoebe to meet David.
Why is Caroline torn about whether or not to let Phoebe move?
It would be difficult for Phoebe and Robert to be able to live alone and support themselves.
Why does Al encourage Caroline to let Phoebe move to the center?
Al often seems to act as the voice of reason, the person Caroline goes to for advice.
Why does the incident on the bus make Caroline so uneasy?
This seems like a frustrating situation for both Phoebe and Caroline.
What does the highlighted line suggest about Phoebe?
You can tell by the way Al talks to Phoebe that he genuinely cares about her.
What was the author's purpose for including this incident in the novel?
This would be a big adjustment.
Which of the following themes is further developed in this chapter?
Norah is talking about the backyard, that she always meant to do more with it, and now she never would. Is there something else she might be thinking about? Is there a part of her life she may wish she had made more of or done more with?
As Norah is going through the boxes of David's things, what is the tone?
If only David had shared his feelings with his wife and had accepted her grief, maybe they would have had a different life.
Which of the following is not a likely reason that Norah is feeling uneasy about seeing Caroline?
What a shock!
Caroline kept this secret all these years, but now she has told Norah. What can you infer based on this information?
Norah is having a hard time thinking of David as a good person right now since she has this new knowledge about what he did.
Norah had finally moved on and dealt with her grief over losing Phoebe, only to have all the pain resurface with this new knowledge that she is alive. Was it right or wrong for Caroline to tell Norah the truth? Support your answer with details from the novel.
Is it surprising that Paul is interested in a family, given how unhappy his own family was?
Based on the information given about Michelle, which of the following is not true?
Paul was probably very concerned when he found his mother this way.
Which of the following is not true based on the information given?
Would this really be best for Phoebe?
Caroline knows that Norah and Paul are coming. What does Norah mean by the highlighted lines?
Phoebe seems like a genuinely kind person.
Which of the following is the best summary of the situation?
Phoebe is very honest, in an innocent way. Paul appears to understand her and to be getting along with her well, though.
What does Paul realize as he talks with Phoebe?
Norah was very sure of the church since this was the place where she had finally come to terms with her grief and had begun to move on with her life.
Which of the following is not true about Paul?
It appears that Paul has forgiven his mother for things she has done in the past, and they have developed a close relationship.
What is the tone of the highlighted passage?
This is such a sad statement.