"Apparently international bestseller, Secret Daughter, has been made such a hit, in part, by the fact that Canadians loved this book. I count myself as one of those admirers.
First, the story. Secret Daughter is about a woman, Kavita, from a small village in India who takes her second daughter to an orphanage, after her first daughter is taken away at birth and murdered by her husband’s family. Across the ocean, in California, a young couple, Somer and Krishnan, are faced with the fact that they will not be able to have children of their own. The husband is from India, and his mother helps to facilitate an adoption from an orphanage in India. Of course, the baby they adopt is the one given up by Kavita.
From there, the novel switches back and forth between the two families. We read about the struggle of living in India, and the forever pain that Kavita has at losing her daughter. In California, Somer is living with a different kind of pain as her teenage daughter begins to demand answers about her real family, and yearns to learn more about India, a country and culture that are foreign to Somer.
Eventually the novel switches to focus on Asha, the daughter. She travels to India and spends time with her grandmother, learning to love her native country.
This book has so many thought-provoking themes. We read about India, seen through the eyes of different people. The smells, the sounds, the food, are all brought to life in vivid detail. There are stories about finding your self – both literally, as Asha tries to discover her roots, and also for Somer as she tries to rediscover the person she once was.
For me, the theme in this book that touched me the most was the story of moms and hope and love. The main characters tell their stories of what it means to be a mom – Somer, Kavita, Krisnan’s mother (Dadima). But there are also the stories of the mothers that Asha meets in the Dubai slums. The book is a reminder that families come in many different forms, are constituted out of the most unlikely relationships. They endure in large part because of the deep love we, as mothers, have for our children.
So, give yourself a little gift, curl up before the fire on a snowy afternoon this winter and read Secret Daughter. I promise you it will enrich your understanding of your own family."
Read an excerpt of Secret Daughter. This would be a great selection for a book club as well - Gowda has provided a set of discussion questions.
A great review - thanks Julia! Also reviewed by Mystica, who also gave it a resounding thumbs up. And also just chosen as a certified 'Savvy Read' by Harper Collins Canada.