Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review: "Secret Daughter" by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Somer, an American doctor, has it all- a loving husband, a rewarding career. The only thing that she doesn't have, and the thing which she can never have, is a baby. Somer decides to adopt a child at the same time that Kavita, an impovershed Indian woman living in small village, decides to do whatever it takes to save her baby girl in a culture that favours sons.

Somer adopts and raises Kavita's daughter in America, but as Asha grows and asks questions, Somer does whatever she can to hold tight to her. Asha's curiosity becomes too much for her and she seeks out the answers to the questions that surround her birth to a woman who has never forgotten about her.

It's no wonder that Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda has topped so many bestseller lists since it first came out. It is a story about family and the various ways that we can create a family. It is a story about cultural identity and the ways in which we relate to those around us. It is a story about love and how it can find ways to conquer all. These themes run throughout the book and provide the reader a lot of food for thought.

The characters were all richly drawn, even though I didn't like them all. Asha, the "secret daughter" was unlikable at times. In her quest to find her identity she seems to push her adoptive mother away, despite the fact that Somer is the one that has loved and provided for her since she was an infant. Then again, Somer was not completely innocent either. Instead of giving her daughter the space that she needed to discover her Indian culture and find out more about her orgins, Somer seems to hold tighter to Asha, which in turn suffocates her. The characters really came to life for me, and their faults made them all the more realistic.

Secret Daughter spans the globe, travelling between India and America, and I appreciated travelling through the author's eyes. I especially enjoyed the scenes set in Mumbai as they gave me a glimpse into a fascinating culture.

Well-written and interesting, Secret Daughter will certainly leave readers with a lot to think about after the last page is turned and would make an excellent book club choice.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Challenges: 2011 100+ Reading Challenge, South Asian Challenge 2011



  2. This sounds like a book that really packs an emotional punch. I'm hoping to get my book club to read it sometime soon!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  3. I have not seen one bad review of this book :)
    I love to read things set in India, so I'll have to check this one out.

  4. Oh, Asha -- goodness. She made me crazy. I really wanted to like her but I just... didn't. Even toward the end, waiting for her to redeem herself, I couldn't shake my annoyance with her as a character. Still, this was an enjoyable read and one I was eager to finish!

  5. The book sounds wonderful - lovely review. I discovered your blog on another blog, I'm so happy I did!

  6. I read this book a couple months ago and enjoyed it.


  7. I really liked this book, and didn't expect to. Kavita's story is heartbreaking, but giving her daughter up really allowed Asha to enjoy her life so much.

  8. This book will definitely be in my top 10 of the year - I just loved it!

  9. Great review--I loved the book too. I've linked to your review on my blog.