NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and satisfying, great debut..., January 30, 2010

This beautifully written book, Secret Daughter: A Novel, is one that will linger in my thoughts for a long time. It's a poignant story about family -- just who is "family" and what it means to be a part of one. It's also a brilliantly written testimony to mothers everywhere, for "if the mother falls, the whole family falls."

Asha (Hope) was secretly named Usha (Dawn) by her birth mother, Kavita, and is adopted from an Indian orphanage by a married American couple when she is just a year old. Kavita, already grieving the infanticide of a previous daughter in a society that prefers male infants, had made the long journey to Shanti to deliver her 3-day-old child there for safety so that her husband and his family would not also destroy this second unwanted female child. She left her daughter with only a thin silver bracelet and a wish that Asha be allowed to live, grow up, and perhaps have a better life.

Somer and Krishnan Thakkar, both doctors -- she's a pediatrician and he's a neurosurgeon -- have been unable to have a child. He is Indian and came to America to attend medical school and stayed for a better life. She married him without fully appreciating the Indian heritage and his connection to the land of his birth and to the family and traditions he left behind there. When they adopt Asha and bring her back to America to raise, little do they realize that their new beloved daughter will one day defy her parents and seek to restore their connection to their Indian relatives despite the fact that she may hurt them when she begins to trace her birth parents to find out who she is and why they gave her up for adoption.

The story moves forward in time from 1984 to 2009, and is told from the viewpoints of the three main females of the story - Somer, Kavita, and Asha. All are women who have a very strong feeling about motherhood -- and about their own mothers. In addition, each woman sees a different India and comes to appreciate the country in different ways even as they realize that "Mother India does not love all her children equally."

The story of each woman's journey to epiphany and self-realization is very moving and satisfying. I highly recommend this book.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Denise,

    I just wanted to send you a (well overdue) note thanking you for taking the time to read my novel and write such a thoughtful review. I'm so pleased that you enjoyed it and have recommended it so heartily to others!

    Best wishes,