Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda Review and GIVEAWAY!

Secret Daughter is a wonderful book about motherhood. It was the kind of book that I had a hard time putting down, and that had me thinking not only about the injustices of the world, but also the relationships between mother and daughter.

Secret Daughter is the tale of two mothers and one daughter. In a small rural village in India in 1984, Kavita bears her second child. Her first daughter was taken away and killed by her husband. Not wanting the same fate for her second daughter, Kavita journeys to Bombay with her sister to an orphanage. She journeys right after giving birth! I was in pain just reading this section. At the orphanage, Kavita gives up her young daughter to hopefully a better life, but can’t stop thinking about her.

Somer is a doctor that is enjoying life with a fulfilling career and a wonderful husband, Krishnan. Only one more thing would make life complete, a baby. Unfortunately Somer suffers multiple miscarriages and it is determined that she is going through a very early menopause. Distraught that she can’t have a baby, she eventually warms to an idea of getting a baby from an orphanage in her husband’s hometown of Bombay.

Somer and Krishnan travel to Bombay and adopt Kavita’s daughter Usha and mistakenly believe her name to be Asha. They travel back to California and lovingly raise her. Meanwhile in India Kavita has a third child, a much celebrated boy. Kavita, her husband, and young son move to Bombay to look for a better life than they believe they can live in their village. The stories of these two families are entwined, especially after Asha returns to India as a young college student to work at a newspaper and get to know her father Krishnan’s family. Through her journey, Asha learns what it really means to be a family, and the sacrifices that a mother has to make.

I loved Secret Daughter. It was the kind of book that really got me thinking and talking about world topics, in this case how baby girls are undervalued in some countries. Undervalued to the point of selective sex abortions and infanticide. These topics seem almost incomprehensible to me living in the United States. I think my husband may have gotten tired of me talking about it while I read this book!

It was not only weighty topics that drew me to this novel; I really enjoyed the growth of the characters and the exploration of motherhood. Somer and Kavita are very different types of mothers, but yet each in their own way was instrumental to the woman that Asha would become. Asha didn’t appreciate Somer as a mother until she grew older and reached a better understanding of the sacrifices that a mother makes in raising her child. I loved this journey and understood it both as a daughter and a mother.

As a mother Somer faces many challenges. She was a top notch doctor with a lot of ambition before she adopted Asha, but afterwards she changed her career paths and goals in order to have more time with her daughter. This led to one of my favorite quotes in the novel:

“Somer has no time for the PTA and bake sales. She has no time for herself. Her profession no longer defines her, but neither does being a mother. Both are pieces of her, and yet they don’t seem to add up to a whole. Somer didn’t know that having it all, as she always believed she would, would mean that she’s falling short everywhere. She tries to reassure herself that life is about trade-offs and she should make her peace with this one, though more often than not, it is an uneasy peace.”

This quote really resonated with me and is something that I often feel myself. Trying to work part-time as an engineer as well as part-time stay at home with my kids is hard work. I often feel like I can’t keep up on either side and get everything done to the best of my abilities.

Overall, Secret Daughter is a beautifully written novel that explores the relationships between mothers and daughters as well as the importantance of women in our society. I highly recommend it.

Book Source: Morrow Paperbacks, HarperCollins Publishers. Thank-you!

Giveaway Details

Megan from HarperCollins has been kind enough to offer one copy of Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda for a giveaway.

If you would like to win a copy of Secret Daughter please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the novel.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using random.org (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).

No P.O. Boxes.

The deadline for entry is midnight, Friday June 10th.

Good luck!


  1. I'm so intrigued by this story! It is always so interesting as a Mother to hear of sacrifices and hardships that other Mother's go through. I can't imagine how it would feel. Incredible story!
    Thanks so much for this giveaway!


  2. I love reading books that involve different cultures. India has always been a fascinating place to me, and the premise of the book sounds very interesting. Thanks for the giveaway!

    I'm following you on GFC (Darlene).

    Darlene (darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com)

  3. I've been trying to get my hands on a copy of this book - it sounds like it would be such an amazing read. Plus, I'm from the same ethnic background and know of the hardships that a woman must endure in that culture. Thank you so much for hosting this amazing giveaway.

    GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~
    Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. I posted the giveaway on my sidebar:


    GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~
    Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. I am going to post this on my blog's Face book page. The review was well written and it sounds like a wonderful story. I am a GFC follower. Donna


  6. Mother/daughter relationships have always fascinated me. This book is on my wish list. I've been wanting to read it. I'm glad it's so good.

    I'd love to win!


    2 Kids and Tired Books

  7. I have been wanting to read this book...India intrigues me.

    littleone AT shaw DOT ca

  8. I love books that deal with motherhood, especially the bonds between mothers and daughters. Is it nurture or nature?


  9. I read the review on the blog and the book sounds amazing. I love stories that take place in different countries and can't wait to read and find out how Asha life turns out. --Melanie

  10. I have heard that this is a great read so I would love to win!

    I'm a new follower from book blogs...thanks for hosting the giveaway.


  11. What intrigues me is the mothers are so different, but each has many redeeming qualities.


  12. I like to read about mother-daughter relationships and this sounds very interesting.

  13. thanks for the opportunity to read this beautiful novel :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  14. This one has been on my wishlist! I can't imagine having to give up a child.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  15. It gave perspectives about adoption and I enjoyed reading about India and it's many facets...some wonderful and others not so much but a rich culture none the less. It is also a book that raises questions about fate and being born in the right place at the right time...and how culture enters into it all. It is compassionately written and gives all sides of the story.