Week 21: Secret Daughter

Secret Daughter, by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Secret Daughter chronicles the lives of two women and the child they share. Kavita is a young wife in India forced to give up her baby girl; Somer is a doctor in California struggling with infertility. Somer and her husband, Krishnan, adopt the baby and call her Asha, but Somer is always afraid that she will be left out. Kavita, meanwhile, gives birth to a son and moves to Bombay. As Asha grows up, she wonders where she came from, and eventually spends a year in India.

I enjoyed the book pretty well, but I felt that Somer's character lacked something. It was hard to get a sense of her as a person and Kavita was much more real. It seemed to me that the author favored the Indian characters, while the Caucasian characters were always described as sterile and hollow, lacking depth.

The story contains great descriptions of India, though. There's quite a lot about Kavita's farming village, Bombay--filthy, crowded, exciting, with awful poverty and high privilege--and Krishnan's wealthy family home. I thought that was the best part of the novel.


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