Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Secret Daughter fared vastly different from my Heather’s Pick expectations. I’ve yet to get the chance to visit India, a country I’ve been dying to see since the inception of my travel obsession; so I’m partial to books that involve the country in some way. Secret Daughter follows two story lines; the first, a female medical student in the U.S. dating a classmate of Indian decent. The second, a village woman in India who gave her second-born daughter up for adoption after her husband murdered the first in a rage over not being granted a son. A third story line creeps in later in the narrative of the baby given up.

This is a serious book and shouldn’t be misconstrued for light, easy reading with a sunny ending. Trouble conceiving, martial struggles leading to separation, an inability to connect with your adopted daughter and, of course, the many issues surrounding life in a developing nation are just a few of the themes Gowda probes in Secret Daughter. This is one of those books that takes a no nonsense approach to what life looks like when it’s not working out. But all the while you’re thinking “I hope my life never takes that shape,” you’re swiftly reminded that things could be “developing nation” worse. Gowda perfectly juxtaposes the real-life problems of women in North America to those in India.

Having not expected such serious prose, I can’t say I particularly enjoyed reading this book; but I did respect it. The writing is good and I’m sure there are many readers who will identify with the characters. Depending on your literary tastes – this may or may not be a good choice for your next vacation read.

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