Thursday, August 04, 2011

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (+ Giveaway!)

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda is two stories intertwined, connected by a baby, a secret daughter who changes the lives of two families forever. After giving birth to her second daughter when her husband and family have been praying for a boy- in a time when a boy is what is desired, somebody who can help with the farm- Kavita knows that the only way to save her daughter's life is to give her away. In secret Kavita brings the girl to Mumbai orphanage. Meanwhile, two American doctors struggling with infertility make the decision to adopt. The husband is from India, so he and his wife Somer decide to adopt a beautiful baby with gold flecks in her eyes; Kavita's secret daughter. These two decisions lay the framework for a touching story about the family you are born with, and the family you choose.

Gowda expertly captures the conflict of emotions felt by Kavita, Somer as well as her husband Krishman and Asha/Usha who is the daughter. Even after Kavita has the longed-for son, it can never fill the void left behind by her daughter, and despite doing everything she can to give her son the best life, it may not be enough. Secret Daughter does for Indian culture and women what A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini does for Afghani women, albeit slightly less successfully. It gives you a look into the culture and controversy of families have sex-selected abortions ("spend 200 rupees now and save 20,000 rupees later") as well as the differences between the lives of men versus women and rich versus poor. There were a few times when I felt that the book was more general than I would have liked, but I suppose that is the nature of reading a novel instead of a non-fiction history book. Overall Gowda successfully weaves the two stories together, simultaneously educating and touching the heart of the reader.


Want to win your own copy of Secret Daughter? Simply leave a comment letting me know your favourite novel that taught you about a different culture. Must be a follower to enter. Open to the US only, PO Boxes are fine. Winner will be selected using and will have 72 hours to respond or a new one will be selected. Giveaway ends August 17th at 11:59 MST. Good luck everyone! 

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