Book Reviews Erin's Book Challenge

Book review: Secret Daughter

Secret Daughter is a debut novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. The year is 1984. In San Francisco, Somer {pronounced Summer}, a paediatrician, has been married to Krishnan, a neurosurgeon originally from India, for a few years. They have been trying hard to have a baby but after Somer miscarries for the third time, she is told she has early menopause. Shattered that she will never become a mother, Somer grieves for what could have been. Around the same time, in a village in India, Kavita gives birth to her second child — a girl. Not wanting the same fate as her first daughter to fall on her second child, she gives up her daughter at an orphanage in Bombay without the knowledge of her husband Jasu and his family.

After a year of grieving, Krishnan manages to convince Somer to adopt. They head to India and adopt a little girl — the same girl given up by Kavita. Naming her Asha {meaning, hope}, Somer begins to build her life around her daughter. In the mean time, Kavita gives birth to a son, much to the joy of her husband and his family, but continues to grieve for her secret daughter.

As Asha grows older, she longs to know about her biological mother. In spite of Somer’s efforts, she feels she is losing Asha. Finally, at age 20, Asha wins a prize to work with the Times of India in Mumbai on a project as part of her career path towards becoming a journalist. It is here she finally meets Krishnan’s family and gets to know Mumbai — the good, bad and ugly. Finally, Asha decides to go in search of her biological parents and to find out why they gave her up. But will finding them break her and break up the family she knows?

The premise of this story was interesting and captured me straight away. Gowda has drawn out her characters really well, particularly the female characters. Somer and Kavita are almost parallel women with their respective strengths in times of adversity. Asha comes into her own in the final parts of the book. The themes of motherhood and family are addressed in this journey that spans over 25 years. Issues about the girl child and female infanticide which is rife in India are touched upon as are matters about inter-racial relationships.

The writing jarred me every now and then with the change in tense but apart from that, Gowda writes quite well. The plot works and as a reader, you want to know more about the families. For me personally, the motherhood bit frustrated me slightly — the notion that a woman who can’t give birth automatically thinks she is unworthy because all women should be mothers tends to be a soapbox issue of mine. So too a woman who loses her entire identity once she has a child. And we’re not talking about the Indian women necessarily but rather, Somer herself. But apart from those personal gripes, it was a good story.

My rating:

ratings-4-star-small

 

 

***This has been read and reviewed as part of Erin’s Book Challenge 4.0 which required to read a book with son, daughter, mother or father in the title, and the Outdo Yourself Reading challenge. Also linking up with Grace for FYBF and Mackenzie and Janine for Friday Reflections***

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

SANCH_sig1

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  • Tonia Zemek
    February 12, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Sounds like an interesting read. Lately, I seem to be buying endless books and stacking them on my bedside table! I really need a weekend of reading some day soon, me thinks. Meanwhile, have a relaxing weekend. Great review.

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      February 12, 2016 at 8:19 am

      Haha…that’s what I’ve been doing all these years but this year, due to taking public transport to work, I’m getting more time to read!

  • Tonia Zemek
    February 12, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Sounds like an interesting read. Lately, I seem to be buying endless books and stacking them on my bedside table! I really need a weekend of reading some day soon, me thinks. Meanwhile, have a relaxing weekend. Great review.

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      February 12, 2016 at 8:19 am

      Haha…that’s what I’ve been doing all these years but this year, due to taking public transport to work, I’m getting more time to read!

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    February 12, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Oooh, sounds interesting!
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit recently posted…Day 2310 – Suzanne Grae Microtwill Pants currently 30% off – Product ReviewMy Profile

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    February 12, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Oooh, sounds interesting!
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit recently posted…Day 2310 – Suzanne Grae Microtwill Pants currently 30% off – Product ReviewMy Profile

  • Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    February 12, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Sounds like an interesting read. This year I’m determined to make time for books – it would be nice to finish at least one 🙂
    Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid recently posted…She’s So Inspiring – Bec SenyardMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      February 12, 2016 at 8:18 am

      I think this year due to catching public transport to work, I’m finding more time to read. Good luck with it! 🙂

  • Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    February 12, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Sounds like an interesting read. This year I’m determined to make time for books – it would be nice to finish at least one 🙂
    Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid recently posted…She’s So Inspiring – Bec SenyardMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      February 12, 2016 at 8:18 am

      I think this year due to catching public transport to work, I’m finding more time to read. Good luck with it! 🙂

  • Amy@Handbagmafia
    February 12, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Sounds very interesting! Will have to see if I can grab a copy!
    Amy@Handbagmafia recently posted…Dear Mummy Bloggers…My Profile

  • Amy@Handbagmafia
    February 12, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Sounds very interesting! Will have to see if I can grab a copy!
    Amy@Handbagmafia recently posted…Dear Mummy Bloggers…My Profile

  • Vishakha Sethi
    February 12, 2016 at 8:18 am

    I read this book a while ago and found it interesting as well. “Secret Son” is going to be my next book! Cheers!!!

    • Vishakha Sethi
      February 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      Sorry, I meant to write “The Secret Son”. lol

  • Vishakha Sethi
    February 12, 2016 at 8:18 am

    I read this book a while ago and found it interesting as well. “Secret Son” is going to be my next book! Cheers!!!

    • Vishakha Sethi
      February 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      Sorry, I meant to write “The Secret Son”. lol

  • Natalie @ our parallel connection
    February 12, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Sounds like s good read. Is it hard to get into? Some books like this are slow and take a couple of hundred pages to enjoy

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      February 12, 2016 at 11:14 am

      It’s actually pretty easy to get into Natalie…characters are clear, there is an inciting incident in the first chapter and gets you hooked

  • Natalie @ our parallel connection
    February 12, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Sounds like s good read. Is it hard to get into? Some books like this are slow and take a couple of hundred pages to enjoy

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      February 12, 2016 at 11:14 am

      It’s actually pretty easy to get into Natalie…characters are clear, there is an inciting incident in the first chapter and gets you hooked

  • sue
    February 12, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Sounds like a great read. It is a difficult time when children who have been adopted want to find their birth mother. I’m not sure how I would cope. Thank you for a great review. #FridayReflections

  • sue
    February 12, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Sounds like a great read. It is a difficult time when children who have been adopted want to find their birth mother. I’m not sure how I would cope. Thank you for a great review. #FridayReflections

  • Grace
    February 12, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Asha is a beautiful name. I get what you mean about the whole notion that a woman is not worthy until she is a mother. But I’ve heard about a documentary (have got it on my wishlist) about women in India who are facing infertility and the social judgment they face. And you know, it’s not just in India. Maybe that’s what Gowda is trying to depict.
    Grace recently posted…FYBF – Knock, Knock…My Profile

  • Grace
    February 12, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Asha is a beautiful name. I get what you mean about the whole notion that a woman is not worthy until she is a mother. But I’ve heard about a documentary (have got it on my wishlist) about women in India who are facing infertility and the social judgment they face. And you know, it’s not just in India. Maybe that’s what Gowda is trying to depict.
    Grace recently posted…FYBF – Knock, Knock…My Profile

  • Nicole @ The Builder's Wife
    February 12, 2016 at 11:27 am

    I personally think I might find this book a little difficult to read, but often the ones that make us uncomfortable, are the ones that linger longest. Thank you for the review.

  • Nicole @ The Builder's Wife
    February 12, 2016 at 11:27 am

    I personally think I might find this book a little difficult to read, but often the ones that make us uncomfortable, are the ones that linger longest. Thank you for the review.

  • TexErin
    February 12, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    I picked this in my preliminary list…then changed…but I still want to read this. You’ve convinced me I should.
    TexErin recently posted…SolitudeMy Profile

  • TexErin
    February 12, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    I picked this in my preliminary list…then changed…but I still want to read this. You’ve convinced me I should.
    TexErin recently posted…SolitudeMy Profile

  • Mackenzie Glanville
    February 12, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Thank you for linking up, it sounds like an interesting book, I obviously don’t believe whether you have a child or not means anything in relation to how worthy you are as a woman, but after 3 miscarriages of my own I did feel like my body had betrayed me, I got angry at myself. I realise that this is not was not the right thing to do, but at the time I felt very lost, so I guess I can understand it even though logically it makes no sense. #Fridayreflections
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…The Latte YearsMy Profile

  • Mackenzie Glanville
    February 12, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Thank you for linking up, it sounds like an interesting book, I obviously don’t believe whether you have a child or not means anything in relation to how worthy you are as a woman, but after 3 miscarriages of my own I did feel like my body had betrayed me, I got angry at myself. I realise that this is not was not the right thing to do, but at the time I felt very lost, so I guess I can understand it even though logically it makes no sense. #Fridayreflections
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…The Latte YearsMy Profile

  • Melissa {Suger}
    February 15, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Sounds like an interesting and thoughtful read!

  • Melissa {Suger}
    February 15, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Sounds like an interesting and thoughtful read!

  • Kinmin
    February 15, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    I did read this book a few years ago and really liked it.. I liked how it brought up issues of female infanticide and a general preference for sons over daughters in India. I also liked that this was a realistic portrayal of adoption, since I’ve personally considered that a few times.. And yes, I agree with you that it’s annoying that Somer gives up her full time career once she has a child..
    I have four books that I want to start reading, but no time!
    Kinmin recently posted…Sisterhood of the World QnAMy Profile

  • Kinmin
    February 15, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    I did read this book a few years ago and really liked it.. I liked how it brought up issues of female infanticide and a general preference for sons over daughters in India. I also liked that this was a realistic portrayal of adoption, since I’ve personally considered that a few times.. And yes, I agree with you that it’s annoying that Somer gives up her full time career once she has a child..
    I have four books that I want to start reading, but no time!
    Kinmin recently posted…Sisterhood of the World QnAMy Profile

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