Secret Daughter Paperback – Mar 1 2010
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“Gowda has masterfully portrayed two families... linked by a powerful, painful tie that complicates their lives... A thought-provoking examination of the challenges of being a woman in America and in India -- and in the psychological spaces in between.” (Chitra Divakaruni, author of The Palace of Illusions)
“Set in California and the teeming city of Mumbai, SECRET DAUGHTER is a beautifully composed compelling story of love, loss, discovery and the true meaning of family.” (Anjali Banerjee, author of Imaginary Men)
Fiction with a conscience, as two couples worlds apart are linked by an adopted child....A lightweight fable of family division and reconciliation, gaining intensity and depth from the author’s sharp social observations (Kirkus)
First novelist Gowda offers especially vivid descriptions of the contrasts and contradictions of modern India... Rife with themes that lend themselves to discussion, such as cultural identity, adoption, and women’s roles, this will appeal to the book club crowd. (Library Journal)
It’s moving and thought-provoking and informative and imaginative and beautifully executed. What a wonderful story! (Mary Jane Clark, author of Dying for Mercy)
The Secret Daughter is a deeply moving and timeless story of an adopted daughter’s long distance search for cultural identity and acceptance; first with the mother who raised her, and ultimately with the mother who gave her up. (Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter)
In her engaging debut, Gowda weaves together two compelling stories… Gowda writes with compassion and uncanny perception from the points of view of Kavita,Somer, and Asha, while portraying the vibrant traditions, sights, and sounds of modern India. (Booklist)
This wise debut moves deftly between the child’s two mothers and cultures. (Good Housekeeping)
A No. 1 bestseller in Canada, “Secret Daughter” tells a nuanced coming-of-age story that is faithful to the economic and emotional realities of two very different cultures. (Washington Post) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
Somer’s life is everything sheimagined it would be—she’snewly married and has startedher career as a physician in SanFrancisco—until she makes the devastatingdiscovery she never will beable to have children.
The same year in India, a poormother makes the heartbreakingchoice to save her newborn daughter’slife by giving her away. It is adecision that will haunt Kavita forthe rest of her life, and cause aripple effect that travels across theworld and back again.
Asha, adopted out of a Mumbaiorphanage, is the child that bindsthe destinies of these two women. Wefollow both families, invisibly connecteduntil Asha’s journey of self-discoveryleads her back to India.
Compulsively readable anddeeply touching, Secret Daughter isa story of the unforeseen ways inwhich our choices and families affectour lives, and the indelible power oflove in all its many forms.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
This story takes place in a remote Indian village. On the eve of the monsoons, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl who is not wanted by her husband, Jasu. He takes the baby, disappears for a couple of hours and returns without her. Kavita does not know what he has done. A couple of years later, Kavita again gives birth to a daughter whom she decides this time her husband will not take from her. She secretly makes plans with her sister Rupa to walk miles and miles to another village to leave her baby daughter at an orphanage with the hope she will be adopted and have a good life. The baby girl has the most beautiful "gold" coloured eyes, just like Kavita.
A couple of years later, Kavita again gives birth but this time to a boy Vijay whom her husband Jasu adores but he turns out to be a huge disappointment.
In America, Somer and Krishnan, both doctors can't seem to conceive. After a few brutually upsetting miscarriages, they decide to adopt a baby from Krishnan's home country of India. Somer is American but the waiting lists here are much too long. They travel half-way around the world to pick up their new baby daughter, the one with the most beautiful "gold" coloured eyes!
The novel interweaves the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies. Each chapter flips between Kavita and Somer which I love.
The characters are beautifully developed, the story well-written and you won't want this one to end. I'm keeping this in my permanent collection along with Rohinton Mistry's "A Fine Balance".
I would love to see Ms. Gowda write a sequel to this!!!! I need to know how Asha/Usha fares in the rest of her life and all of Krishnan's relatives and especially Kavita, Jasu and Vijay.
The whole concept of having borne and then concealed a child is hardly new. Many older North American birth mothers have their own "secret daughters (or sons)", having been forced into silence and denial by a society that once viewed illegitimacy as shameful and extramarital pregnancy as an aberration. Many children of the 1930s through early 1960s in particular, even in the supposedly enlightened West, are still bound to a past without answers. And their adoptive parents may have viewed a child's desire to find such answers with great uneasiness, if not outright dread. This still occurs within the contemporary adoption community. Somer embodies the concerns of many adoptive mothers, although I don't feel she is given enough scope to develop as a character and her Indian-American husband, Krishnan, receives even less opportunity. But several issues are raised nonetheless. There's the fear of losing one's child to strangers who have a greater genetic claim on her/him. There's also the anxiety that the reunion might turn out to be immensely painful for a well-loved daughter or son. And there's the feeling that no matter what efforts an adoptive parent may have made to ensure the child's happy progress through youth and adolescence, they are never going to be quite enough.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I enjoyed reading this story about the unconditional love of mothers for their children (no matter if biological or adopted) and about how to overcome cultural differences in... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Well written, excellent detail. A book that was hard to put down.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Let me wipe my tears away to review this stunner of a book. While it had moments slightly contrived, the soul and humanity it exudes are deeply, deeply compelling. Read morePublished 2 months ago by In_arms_reach
Very interesting story, well written, and kept me engaged to the end.Published 3 months ago by Joanne Smith
I seem destined lately to read books that tell the tale of two people or two families, alternately, back and forth throughout the book. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mys M
Understanding the pain and pressure that society puts on people based on religion and culture was very enlightening.Published 8 months ago by lerone