Review: Secret Daughter

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Pages: 342

Genre: Adult Fiction, Cultural, Mom Lit

My Rating: 3/5


“On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favours 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 overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.

Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families – one Indian, one American – and the child that indelibly connects them”

I have to start this review by saying that I had to read this novel for my English class this semester.

I thought this was a well-written piece, though not being my piece of cake. Within the first few “chapters”, it had me wanting to throw it at a wall. Seriously! The subject of birth and parenthood and… it just upset me. You go on to find that Somer has issues with her body and it made me so upset because I also have ovarian problems and there’s a good chance I can’t have children, not that I want them this second, but still is remains. Reading that really caught me off guard, and when Kavita was actually giving birth to the children, I couldn’t help but scrunch up my face in terror. I am absolutely petrified of childbirth, and reading that did not help me at all!

And Jasu! Gah! I feel a bit bad for Jasu. It seemed as though he really did care about his daughters, he just knew he couldn’t keep them. But poor Kavita… could you imagine having to give your child up just because they couldn’t work in the fields? That would absolutely destroy me! And obviously, it haunted both of these parents.

My favourite part about this book had to be Asha (Usha). She’s my age, is a journalist, and is so confused yet so aware. It’s difficult to explain why I liked her, I just really enjoyed reading her “chapters.” She’s a child that doesn’t know her birth parents, has difficulty with her adopted mother, and is trying to figure herself out. But that brings me to my next point…

The end of this book was so sad… well, I guess it was actually quite happy. Very happy. But it made me say “awe” out loud. Just a couple of years… (to keep this spoiler free, read the book and you’ll understand)

I suppose this book gave me an insight into India though. I’ve never known a lot about India, I won’t lie, and it’s fascinating. It’s like any other place, just… different. One day, I hope to go – it can’t ALL be bad and depressing!

Secret Daughter was a quick and easy read (the terms you don’t know are at the back of the book), it kept my interest, but I only gave it 3 out of 5 stars because it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have (I’m a read for pleasure type of gal), don’t get me wrong though, it was well written.

Enjoy and happy reading!

This was a half-assed review, sorry.


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