A while back, I took a couple of days and read The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. I am so glad I did. I say a couple days, it really didn’t take me that long if you add up all the time I spent reading it. It was a very fast, fluid read, and a wonderful story.
The root of the story revolves around two women. An Indian woman named Kavita, and an American woman named Somer. Kavita has a child, and because she is a girl, she gives her up to an orphanage in order to protect her from being killed, as daughters are not wanted like sons.
Across the globe, Somer, a doctor, who is married to Krishnan, another doctor who immigrated from India, is having problems having children, and it looks like the only way they will ever have a child would be to adopt.
As you can probably guess, Somer and Krishnan end up adopting Kavita’s daughter, Asha. It’s heartbreaking to think of a woman having to give up a child that she so desperately wants, even to save her life. But Kavita’s love for her daughter overpowers any personal desires she may have.
The story follows the two women, and where their lives take them. It also follows Asha, throughout the difficult stages of adolescence, knowing she is adopted, feeling her parents (especially her mother) don’t understand her, yearning for information and to meet her biological mother.
Eventually her yearnings and learnings (she’s a journalist) take her to India, to her Father’s family, where she finds out about her roots, about herself, and about the country she came from.
It’s a very good book. It is full of characters who at times seem like they are their own worst enemies. You want to smack them up the side of the head at certain parts of the story. What it boils down to though is that they are all good people, who are bonded by their love for each other.
It is a well written story, and though it jumps around from the perspective of the different characters, it flows well and isn’t at all confusing. It turns India from a foreign place that I didn’t know much about to a very interesting, beautiful cultural experience. It was eye opening to see how dire the circumstances are for some of the poor people there, in comparison to how well the rich live. Upon reflection though, I guess that doesn’t really differ much from North America or other parts of the world.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. I gave it 5/5 stars on Goodreads.