Friday, 29 June 2012

Should you tell the truth?

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards

The truth can be terrifying.  When a revealed truth has the ability to wreck lives, common sense warns us to keep that truth concealed.  In this novel, David Henry conceals many truths, only one which he conciously debates with himself, always deciding in favour of concealment.  As a physician, and also as a brother, he is an expert in medical matters relating to Down Syndrome. 

Although we are not directly told that his sister had been a Down Syndrome child, we are told she was developmentally delayed, and she had a very weak heart which took her life at a young age.  His parents had been dirt poor and uneducated, and their daughter’s medical condition depleted their meagre funds. 
They weren’t a communicative family, choosing to bury all pains instead.  Because of this, the girl’s death took a more terrible toll on the family than it might have, so when David’s daughter is born with Down Syndrome, he puts on a stoic face but panics inwardly.  Just as he has been secretive about his family background, he decides to keep it a secret from his wife that the child has Down Syndrome, but is otherwise healthy.  Instead, he tells her the baby seemed to be normal, but she died. 
Although he believed his decision to lie was based on sound thinking, medically and personally, it was a hasty decision with a permanent outcome that haunted him and his family forever. 

While the circumstances of this story are not commonplace, and occasionally the author stretches the reader’s credulity, this novel works well for bibliotherapy because of the issue of truth telling. 

When we want to keep a truth covered, we feel we have excellent reasons for doing so.  Our reasoning may be sound, or unsound, but there will be repercussions.  If you are struggling with a truth that should or should not be told, read this book, and see if it helps you make your decision.

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