Title:  Secret Daughter
Author:  Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Release date:  March 9, 2010
Publisher:  William Morrow
Pages:  352
Genre:  Adult fiction, multicultural fiction
Source:  Library

I hadn’t heard of Secret Daughter when I saw it languishing on the library shelves but the gorgeous cover sort of drew me in like a magnet… I couldn’t resist.  But wow, what a book!  I’m so glad I picked it up so I can tell you all about it.

Secret Daughter begins by introducing us to Kavita, a young married Indian woman who is about to give birth to her second daughter.  Her first daughter was taken away at birth by her husband, and although Kavita has no proof, she knows the newborn was killed.  But with this daughter, she is determined to do better.  So just hours after the birth, she takes her on a long and arduous journey to Mumbai, and drops her off at an orphanage there, knowing that even the worst possible scenario for the baby at the orphanage is better than whatever fate her husband has in store for the little girl.  Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Somer and her husband Krishnan have been trying to conceive for years with no success.  So they travel to India, Krishnan’s home country and where all his family still resides, to adopt a baby girl named Asha.  Kavita and her husband Jasu go on to have a baby boy a year later, and Asha grows up in America with her doctor parents, having everything she could ever want but still longing for more understanding of her Indian heritage.

Secret Daughter is an absolutely beautiful novel.  I found myself captivated by these characters and drawn into their stories right from the start.  I felt so involved in their lives, so close to them, which is a testament to Gowda’s fabulous writing.  I felt transported, as if I was with these characters, living out all they were going through right along with them.  The characters were so detailed and well-drawn, such honest portrayals of real people, that I couldn’t help feeling for them along the way.  Even Somer, who I didn’t particularly like, I sympathized with because I found her so realistic and truthful.

One thing I absolutely loved about this novel was the parallel story lines.  Gowda did such an exceptional job at weaving the lives of Kavita, Jasu, and their son with the lives of Somer, Krishnan, and Asha.  Although the book isn’t too long, she managed to fit in twenty years of their lives and she did so flawlessly.  The story would switch back and forth between the two story lines, and each time one ended and the other began I would be both frustrated and excited all at once.  Frustrated because it would interrupt a story I was enjoying, and excited because it would bring me back to the other story, which I was also enjoying!  I think what I’m trying to tell you is that I loved reading about all these characters, and I loved where Gowda took their stories, and I so highly enjoyed the experience of reading this novel.

I’m being completely honest when I say that I don’t have one negative thing to say about this book.  Not only was it full of beautiful writing and chapters that just flew by, but the characters were wonderfully drawn and so real to me.  I truly loved Secret Daughter and I highly recommend it.