Book Discussion Questions: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

The Memory Keeper's Daughter Book CoverTitle: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
Author: Kim Edwards
Page Count: 401 pages
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Tone:  Somber, Multiple Perspectives

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’s 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 to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. But Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears to raise the child herself.

These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

Questions composed by MPPL Staff

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement:  2015 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

  1. 1. In one split decision, David changed so many different people’s lives. Could you understand his reasons for doing what he did? Did you feel any empathy for him?

2. How did David’s past affect him as an adult? What about his past influenced his split decision the day of the births. How did his past affect his other actions throughout the rest of his life.

3. Did your reaction to David’s decision change over the course of the novel?

4. Describe Caroline and David’s relationship. What impact did their relationship have on David’s decision to ask Caroline to take his daughter away? Why do you think he married Norah instead of Caroline?

5. What was Caroline’s true motivation in taking the baby? Why did she take her in the first place? And why did she decide to keep her instead of leaving her at the institution?

6. Do you feel Caroline was morally obligated to tell Norah the truth from the beginning? Why do you think she chose to come forward at the end of the novel after David’s death?

7. How did Norah change over the course of the novel? Can you think of any specific events that were instrumental in her changing?

8. Was Norah a good mother? What effect did the “death” of Phoebe have on her? How might her and David’s life have been different if he hadn’t lied about Phoebe’s death?

9. Why do you think Norah and David’s marriage began to dissolve. Was it simply the loss of their daughter?

10. Describe Paul’s relationship with Norah. How did it differ from David?

11. Compare the lives of both Phoebe and Paul growing up Who of the two would you say had a better quality of life?

12. When David meets Rosemary at his childhood home, it turns out to be a cathartic experience for him. What about the situation allowed David to finally speak the truth? Why did he feel compelled to take care of her?

13. What role did photography play in the novel?

14. Did you think The Memory Keeper’s Daughter was a good title for the book?

15. The story begins in 1964. How have people’s thoughts changed towards Down Syndrome over the years? Do you think the author could have written this same story set in present day?

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Discussion Questions from Lit Lovers’
The book was made into a 2008 film
Q&A with Kim Ewards
Information on Down Syndrome


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