I first picked up this book because I enjoyed Ms. Bontwai's, The Unexpected Son so much. Knowing I liked this other book I ignored the bad reviews and decided to try The Forbidden Daughter out for myself...The premise of selective abortions lures you in, but that's not what this book is about. That's merely the "B" story, and the murder plot is the "C" story. What is so important and intriguing it deserves the spotlight of the "A" story-line? Romance, and not even good romance either. No, this is predictable smooth-sailing boring romance. I understand why she let the "interesting topics" take a backdrop, how much can you discuss this in one book? Past the first chapter not much apparently.
The main characters don't struggle ever, don't really grow. Oh Isha has to learn to be independent, but she doesn't really learn. Its oh, I have money, oh I'm quite a talented business woman, oh I have the perfect place for shelter. The love interest doesn't even grow, he goes from "too busy to work" to spending all his time with a woman he pined after in college. No, they didn't know each other back then, it's not a "second chance romance" its a, "the hottest girl in campus is now low enough to look twice at me" kind of romance. Which, I think, seems unrealistic and way too easy, like the rest of Isha's life.
The characters themselves are very one dimensional. Isha was a high-class socialite, but wait, she never really enjoyed society so having her friends and her wealth and everything that's been a part of her life being taken away from her doesn't matter. You'd think there'd be some adjusting period, going from a housewife in a mansion to a working woman living in a single-room convent, but no, she's just grateful. That's where the one dimension comes in, she's a saint, and does no wrong, she can't even think wrong. Not once does she have a dark thought or wish for her easier life back. To her, her darkest thoughts are romance while in mourning. I understand people may have these qualities, they may close their thoughts to such things, but to have the main character go through "so much" as the author wants you to believe, she has to write so that the character thinks its "so much" as well.
Isha's not the only one who's one-dimensional. I already mentioned how the doctor-love interest quickly goes from convenient bachelor (in a society where people are pushed to be marry no less) to being completely in love with this girl he pined after in college (oh there's other reason's as well, but he didn't learn of her personality until after he was already smitten so it feels like he just needs reasons). He himself is a saint, giving free services and taking so much time off to spend with the kids. The antagonist are the same as well. The grandfather feels no shame, and why should he? It's part of their culture, a girl can't run the shop. The author challenges this without really explaining it, or exploring it. The author racks up all the evils to culture without explaining why it's in their culture to begin with, why people still feel this way and why a woman would even believe it. She could have done so much with this topic, but took the easy way out. Furthermore, she has her younger characters ALL challenge it by stating the obvious, which, of course doesn't work. However, wouldn't it be more affecting to have the sister-in-law step up and run the family store to show their grandfather that girls can do it as well, to try Isha's hand out at manipulation or intelligent discussion (as oppose to wordless fits) to get the grandparents to come to her conclusions. I mean, the moral is, this happens, its bad, people won't change unless they're dying. Wouldn't it be interesting to see why Isha's (ex) friends would get gender-selective abortions, as we know they have. Seeing it from a younger persons point of view would be interesting, but the author doesn't even come close to this.
Anyways, I got so bored with this book I eventually put it down, I pushed myself through the majority of it, but between the poor writing, boring romance plot (I didn't even want), and terribly unrelatable characters, I wish I hadn't bought this book.