Secret Daughter: A Novel
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
If I had a dollar for every moment I’ve wasted time playing the “what if” game, I could retire rich and read fabulous books all day long. And how wonderful would that be?
But since that will never happen, allow me to share a few of the many questions I preoccupy myself with:
What if my father hadn’t been fortunate enough to escape India for America? Is it possible that I would have been born into poverty and lived a very different life? What if, when I was born, my dad decided he couldn’t afford a daughter and he left me at an orphanage? Where would I be now? Or, what if he’d found a clinic that performed gender identification ultrasounds?
Is it possible that I wouldn’t exist at all?
Secret Daughter explores many of life’s “what -ifs.” This is the story of two families who – due to both necessity and survival – make decisions that affect them for the rest of their lives. Author Gowda writes this book from several points of view, including those of a birth mother and an adoptive mother who have nothing in common except that they fight to love a daughter they’ve both won and lost.
This story is also from the point of view of the daughter in question – Asha – who is pulled in so many directions and ultimately finds that what she was looking for was right under her nose the entire time.
From the character driven chapter structure to the honest writing; from the admirable characters to the difficult life choices – this book is nothing short of phenomenal. The reader can’t help but be drawn to the characters as they battle their own demons and insecurities, as they struggle to relate and survive, and as they fight to hold on to what little they have.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that the shocking plight of the people we pretend don’t exist will touch, fascinate, amaze, and inspire those of us who are fortunate enough to read this beautiful book.
Bottom Line: The only thing wrong with this book is the fact that author Shilpi Somaya Gowda has set the bar so high with her debut novel that I fear nothing I write will ever come close.