Saturday, April 28, 2012
Review: Secret Daughter
Author: Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: William Morrow
Synopsis (from Goodreads): 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 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.
My Thoughts: Gowda provides one of the most thought provoking books I've read in a while. The story is not only a page turner but one that will have you thinking about the characters, locales, and issues long after you've stopped turning the pages. She takes us on a journey into a world that many of us have never even really considered, let alone been part of.
Gowda brings very compelling issues into mainstream thought through an engrossing story. Issues that, but for this story, would remain unknown for a large portion of it's readers. We are presented with the reality of arranged marriage, gender preference leading to infanticide, the brutal truths of life lived in a shanty town in India, infertility, the challenge of raising a child of inter-cultural adoption, the identity issues which arise for an adoptee, and the meaning of family. The beauty of Gowda's writing is that even with all this it is still an incredibly accessible book.
The writing in this book is incredibly descriptive and engrossing. Gowda made India come alive for me. I became so immersed in Gowda's India that I had ended up with such a craving to go out one night and experience some of the wonderful food I was reading about. I have now tasted Bengan bhartha, which is delicious!
This is an amazing debut book by Shilpi Somaya Gowda and I highly recommend it!