Usually Ships in 1-5 days Published:
Penguin Books, 6/2006
This novel begins in 1964, when due to a raging blizzard, David, a physician, must deliver his and his wife Norah's first child himself with the help of a nurse named Caroline. The child, a boy they name Paul, is born healthy and normal. Then, unexpectedly, a second child is born, a girl they name Phoebe, in whom David immediately recognizes the signs of Down syndrome. He hands the baby girl over to Caroline the nurse, along with the address of the institution he wants her taken to. Caroline leaves with Phoebe and David turns to his wife Norah and tells her that "their little daughter died when she was born." Thus begins this story of two separate families and the unknown secrets and lies that bind them together.
Caroline brings Phoebe to the institution but cannot bear to leave her there so makes the instantaneous decision to raise her as her own daughter. David and Norah become more and more distant from each other as they raise Paul, who doesn't understand why his father always seems to be angry and disappointed with him. David is not evil; he believes he is shielding his beloved wife and son from a lifetime of heartache and struggle yet the secret he keeps ultimately destroys the entire family.
This book has a ton of "meaty" discussion material: Can you imagine a circumstance when it might be right to shield someone you love from the truth? Comparing the medical community's ideas of what was best for a child with Down syndrome in 1964 vs. 2007? Who had a happier childhood, Phoebe or Paul? Who decides what happy means? What would Norah's reaction have been had she been told the truth when the babies were born?