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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wondeful and powerful read about a mother's love
Every once in a while I want to read something other than chick lit and am always thrilled when I randomly pick up something wonderful. This novel wasn't recommended to us by anyone, rather, I liked the premise of the story, loved the cover and discovered while reading it that I loved the book as well! This beautiful story hooked me from the beginning and I've thought...
Published on May 17 2010 by Lydia - Novel Escapes

versus
54 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great beginning ...
The story synopsis for "Secret Daughter" immediately captured my attention, and I eagerly bought this book looking forward to a satisfying read.

The begining was riveting and sucked me completely into the tale. But, as it progressed I found the author's back and forth jumping between characters very annoying. This writing technique can be successful, but the...
Published on May 16 2010 by P. Field


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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wondeful and powerful read about a mother's love, May 17 2010
By 
Lydia - Novel Escapes (Toronto) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Secret Daughter (Paperback)
Every once in a while I want to read something other than chick lit and am always thrilled when I randomly pick up something wonderful. This novel wasn't recommended to us by anyone, rather, I liked the premise of the story, loved the cover and discovered while reading it that I loved the book as well! This beautiful story hooked me from the beginning and I've thought about long since finishing. It would make a wonderful Mother's Day gift for any of you stumped on what to get your book-loving moms.

In a remote village in India, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl, but living in a culture that favours boys, she is forced to give her up in order to save her life. Meanwhile, an American doctor, Somer, has found out she cannot bear children and she and her husband make the decision to adopt a child from his native country. They fall in love with the beautiful girl in the photo with the gold flecked eyes and bring her to America to raise, while Kavita's thoughts for the daughter she had to give away never diminish. Told from multiple perspectives and alternating between the two families and the daughter that binds them, this story weaves a rich tapestry of a mothers love regardless of circumstance.

There were multiple directions I thought this book might take and it didn't even stray close to any of them, so the lack of predictability was nice, so much so that I found myself feeling lost for a brief time in the 2nd half of the book, unsure where it was headed, but that only lasted a short time. This read wasn't the roller coaster ride I was expecting it to be, but much more subtle and when I came to the end and realized why things were happening the way they were, I was mesmerized by how powerful the story ended up being without my even realizing it.

This is a beautifully written novel with just enough description to be able to picture the setting without being overwhelmed with detail and the contrast between - the Two India's - was richly portrayed. The emotion of the characters was palpable and the Indian terms sprinkled throughout gave it a feeling of authenticity. They didn't intrude on the story however and I only noticed the glossary when I was almost finished the book, but never felt I needed it. Shilpi Somaya Gowda's writing is powerful, her prose beautiful, and the end result an emotional read as evidenced by my tears during the final chapters of this novel.

Secret Daughter is a powerful and thought provoking story about love, family, identity, hope, and above all else, a mother's love. Buy this for your mother for Mother's Day. It is truly the most powerful book about mothers I have ever read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Secret is out..., March 9 2010
By 
Nina (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
As a first novelist I'm impressed with the tapestry built around the main characters as their stories unfold and intertwine throughout two continents. A beautifully written story on personal and cultural identity.A great personal and book club read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intensely emotional read!, July 31 2010
This book was a great read. It had everything in it, excitement, twists, love, horror, despair, I could go on but you get it. The other reviews listed hit the mark for sure.

This is a well written story about a desperate mother who would go to any lengths to save her daughter in a culture where men control.
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54 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great beginning ..., May 16 2010
By 
P. Field "avid reader" (Ottawa) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Secret Daughter (Paperback)
The story synopsis for "Secret Daughter" immediately captured my attention, and I eagerly bought this book looking forward to a satisfying read.

The begining was riveting and sucked me completely into the tale. But, as it progressed I found the author's back and forth jumping between characters very annoying. This writing technique can be successful, but the reader is just settling back into one of the characters lives when Gowder finishes that snippet and switches again - sometimes a character has only 2 pages!

Shilpi Somaya Gowda writes well (I think this is her first book), and the story is a good one which needs telling, but personally I would have enjoyed the book more if she had stayed with each character longer and given us more depth before switching to another part of the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More chronicle than story, Oct. 29 2011
By 
Samantha "Critical Reader" (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Secret Daughter (Paperback)
I wanted to like this book. I have a fondness for novels of India, but Secret Daughter has too many agendas, some of which are overindulged. The fact that Indians have more than a strong preference for boys is not a secret, nor is it just an Indian phenomenon. That adopted children often feel abandoned despite loving adoptive parents is almost cliche. The story of a child adopted to a different country/culture by an interracial couple is interesting and pertinent today; unfortunately, that story gets lost in all the other stuff, some of which seems completely random (e.g. entire chapters are spent on grandparents' deaths, who we, the readers, don't know or care about, and it reveals nothing about the other characters). When each chapter's heading includes the place, date and character name, it is not surprising that the writing is journalistic, flat. No nuance or subtlety. There is very little character development except for the biological mother but she gets lost in the second half of the book when the daughter is grown. While the daughter gets a lot of page time, she is more of a device to expose the problems in India than a fully fleshed out character. Unsatisfactory. I found myself wanting to finish this book quickly. Unfortunately, the ending was not worth my slogging.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good effort but rather uneven, March 12 2011
This review is from: Secret Daughter (Paperback)
I read this book for my book club. I found the book to have some interesting aspects about both biological and adoptive mothers' experiences of losing/adopting a daughter. What was intriguing to me was the part about Somer's insecurity of being a mother to her daughter from a different cultural background. However, even though the novel touches on interesting topics about international adoption and learning a new culture, the characters are not well developed. This left me feeling that the author had made assumptions characters that she created, I wished she had spent time exploring depths to their characters. Overall, I think it was a nice effort for the first novel but the results were rather uneven.
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4.0 out of 5 stars satisfying and disturbing, July 16 2014
Canadian first-time author Shilpi Somaya Gowda has written a compelling story that had me from the beginning. Born in Toronto, Canada, to parents from Bombay, India, she had insight and good understanding of both cultures. She mostly told the story from the perspective of three women - the adopted daughter, the adoptive mother and the birth mother. It was involved and interesting and hard to put down once I started reading.

I don't want to give away too much and spoil it for you, but for anyone who has adopted from another country, or is thinking about it, this book gives a different view of some of the things to take into consideration.

The characters are well-developed, their life situations are convincing and detailed, and the reader gets to share in the story of their lives over a span of twenty-five years. It was easy to care about them. In fact, I experienced a range of emotions as I read this international bestseller.

I liked how the author headed her chapters with not only the title, but also the location, date, and name of the person the reader was visiting in that chapter. Each chapter is only a few pages long which made it easy to read when having only a few minutes. It also helped the reader get oriented right from the start and occasionally helped the author step over a span of several years to move along in the story. It was well done.

The only thing I did not like is the way the author chose to end this novel, although it is quite believable the way it happened. Obviously the ending did not interfere with the book's success. Even so, if you are one who likes to read the end of a book first ... in this case DON'T! Please, do yourself the favour of not peeking. It is well worth the wait.

There has been criticism that the author ignored or changed some things about the culture of India to fit her story, but I don't agree. In a couple of places I had questions, too, but since I have never studied their culture nor have I visited that country, I accepted that perhaps it was something that is changing there with the times. I believed the author would know that, so I didn't let my lack of information get in the way of a great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching, fascinating and one of my favs, March 16 2013
By 
This review is from: Secret Daughter (Paperback)
This book review, as well as many more, can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm [...]

My Thoughts: I loved this book. Period. I read it in two days and found it very hard to put it down. I loved the author's voice and how she told her story about a baby and the two mothers who love her.

Gowda tells the stories of three women in their own voices. First there is young Asha from the time of her birth in India to her twenties. We see how Asha struggles with her cultural identity and how she doesn't feel like she fits in within her predominantly white area in the US. Then there is Asha's mother, Somer who, along with he husband, adopted Asha as a one-year old baby. We see Somer struggle to be acknowledged as Asha's mother and keep the connection with her daughter as Asha begins to wonder about where she came from. We also see how Somer struggles within her own marriage while feeling like an outsider within her husband's family. Lastly we hear the story of Kavita, the young mother who gave Asha up for adoption and how she has had to learn how to deal with the grief that has followed her since that day.

This book is not only beautifully written but deals with many issues - sex, class, education, family and different cultures - all wrapped up in a very inviting and compelling story. I was surprised to read that this is Gowda's first novel because it is so well written and thought provoking. This is a book that has a wonderfully paced story which makes you want to read more and more. But it's also a book that is filled with really interesting subjects and is fascinating on so many levels. It will interest anyone who is a mother, who is a daughter, who struggles with cultural identity, who is interested in adoption, who wants to learn about Indian culture ....

One of my favourite parts of the book was getting an insider's view of Indian culture. From the beautiful descriptions of the clothing and the food, to the huge discrepancy between the rich and their extravagance to the millions of poor and what it's like to live in the shantytowns. It would be very easy to dwell in the poverty and make this book more of a tear jerker but even in the more dire situations Gowda was able to shine a light on the power and resilency of women and mothers. How they are the 'face of hope' for their children and would do what they must to ensure that their children survived.

I also found it fascinating to learn more about women and their roles within Indian culture. There is a definite dichotomy between the lack of power women have in some situations (Kavita giving up her daughter, female children foregoing school in order to clean the home) to the more subtle power that women hold (Asha's Indian grandmother Sarla's influence and respect from her family and friends). As Sarla tells Somer "Being a women in India is an altogether different experience. You can't always see the power women hold, but it is there, in the firm grasp of the matriarchs who still rule most families".

Gowda's writing is believable and touching. The characters all have their own flaws and make their own mistakes which helps make them more believable. The ending is touching and simple. This book is a gem and I highly recommend it.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Secret daughter, Dec 18 2012
By 
Gail Cumberbatch "jookin" (canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Secret Daughter (Paperback)
Fantastic read! Loved the marrying of 2 cultures and the honestly told by the main character. It's a story about family, loss, adoption and relationships and that they are similar no matter the part of the world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, Sept. 5 2012
This review is from: Secret Daughter (Paperback)
There are so many things I loved about this book. Don't want to give away the storyline (which is aptly described by Amazon anyway), so I'll just say that it had me by the heart the entire time. I cared about what happened to the characters all the way through; rooted for them and felt riveted by what would happen to them and how everything would turn out. If you're going to read a book that you want to feel involved in, that takes you away on a journey, this is it. It will inspire you and break your heart all in one go. Couldn't put it down right to the end.
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Secret Daughter
Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (Paperback - March 1 2010)
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