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Secret Daughter

Secret Daughter, March 2010
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

William Morrow
Featuring: Somer; Kavita
352 pages
ISBN: 0061922315
EAN: 9780061922312
Hardcover
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"Poignant, page-turning portrait of gender value, adoption and familial love on two continents"

Fresh Fiction Review

Secret Daughter
Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Reviewed by Patricia Woodside
Posted April 27, 2010

Fiction | Multicultural Indian

After her first child, a daughter, is snatched from her arms and done away with just seconds after birth, Kavita takes matters into her own hands upon the birth of her second daughter, delivering her child into the care of an orphanage. For Kavita, any life is better than none. Unbeknownst to Kavita, her firstborn, Usha, her name changed to Asha (hope), is adopted by an Indian doctor living in America and his American-born wife. As she grows, Asha's lack of knowledge as to where she comes from and thus, where she belongs, drives a fissure between Asha and her adoptive mother, Somer.

Gowda's debut novel, SECRET DAUGHTER, is a tale of many secrets: secrets between Kavita and her husband, Jasu, between Somer and her Indian-born husband, Krishnan, between Asha and both of her mothers. This story touches on gender value, population control, abortion, adoption, among other hot-button topics, but most of all, it tells a poignant, universal tale of the depth and breadth of a mother's love for her child, whether that child is born of her body or gifted to her after birth.

The story seamlessly moves between India and America, between Asha's birth parents and her adoptive parents, as Asha is born, grows up and reaches maturity. The contrast between Asha and her brother, Vijay, and their chosen paths in life is not understated. One child seemingly is given nothing; the other, every sacrifice and advantage. The results are not what readers might expect, and thus a second universal truth is introduced, that there are consequences for choices made.

The multiple points of view combined with the use of present tense might be unsettling for some, but reading SECRET DAUGHTER was a fast-moving, satisfying experience. Gowda paints a vivid, multi-faceted portrait of life in India while also nailing the details of life in America. Her characters are palpably portrayed, and the desire to know how things will ultimately turn out for Asha on both continents will keep the pages turning.

Learn more about Secret Daughter

SUMMARY

A stunning debut novel that explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity and culture, witnessed through the lives of two families, one Indian, one American, and the daughter who indelibly binds them.

On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter’s life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband Krishnan see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.

Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores issues of culture and belonging. Moving between two worlds and two families, one struggling to survive the fetid slums of Mumbai, the other grappling to forge a cohesive family despite diverging cultural identities, this powerful debut novel marks the arrival of a fresh talent poised for great success.


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Comments

2 comments posted.

Re: Poignant, page-turning portrait of gender value, adoption and familial love on two continents

I got to read a very good review on the novel secret daughter
and I found it to be a worth to read one. This includes all
those elements of a perfect Indian family and all those major
issues that are now in our country.
outlookemailsetup.com
(Casper Red 7:20am October 17, 2013)

I got to read a very good review on the novel secret daughter
and I found it to be a worth to read one. This includes all
those elements of a perfect Indian family and all those major
issues that are now in our country.
www.outlookemailsetup.com
(
Casper Red 7:21am October 17, 2013)

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