“On a snowy night in the 1960s, young Dr. Henry finds that he has to deliver his own baby due to the road conditions that prevent his wife's doctor from reaching them. Joy turns to pain when he delivers one healthy baby and one with the markers of Down Syndrome. In an effort to spare his new family additional pain, he makes a quick decision on that stormy night, and the secret of that choice reverberates through the next several decades.
Though motivated by good intentions of protecting his wife and "normal" child, Dr. Henry's snap decision is regretted almost instantly. Unable to take it back, he can only continue the lies and the grief that serve to gradually splinter his family apart. By attempting to protect his family from one kind of pain, he distances himself and inflicts a different one, leaving the reader who has seen everything perhaps wondering how things would have been different had he not made that decision.
Reacting to this withdrawal are Norah and Paul, the wife and son of the perfect family who feel the wall that Dr. Henry has built between them but don't understand the source of it. Always among them is the ghost of the child that is not a part of the family but has also never left it. It's a lesson in snap judgments, or on viewing one life event through the lens of something one assumes is similar. It's also a lesson in how layered lies can become, and how eventually they pile so high that peeling them back becomes exhausting, if not impossible. It's an interesting story that spans many years and events, and it's about a topic that drives a lot of discussion. I can see it easily being a conversation-generator for book discussion groups.
My rating is actually 3.5/5 but since Shelfari doesn't allow half stars, I've bumped it up to 4/5. The story is compelling and paced well. I never struggled through reading it, and finished it fairly quickly given the other real-world stuff I'm juggling right now. But for some reason that I can't even put a finger on, I never connected with the characters, and it's for this reason that my rating is a little lower than my review may seem to indicate. No matter how well written something is, if I don't feel connected to it, I can't seem to kick in that extra-ish star. It was a good read, but not a great one.