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Secret Daughter

July 5, 2011

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.

33 Comments leave one →
  1. krisna permalink
    July 5, 2011 1:36 am

    wow! praiseable……….

  2. arjun (dad) permalink
    July 5, 2011 1:43 am

    that’s fabulus……….~.~

  3. July 5, 2011 2:03 am

    It seems the book is a ‘Must Read’ and to be fair the only way I could agree with you is to read the book – I’ll add it to my reading list.

  4. July 5, 2011 4:38 am

    I’ve heard so much good stuff about this book. It’s not a typical book I would read though – but I think it’s time I expand my horizons.

    And – OF COURSE you’ll write something just as good – but even better because it’s from you ;)…that’s all that I can hope and pray. That we all have something to share and no comparisons. Otherwise…I’ll be like along the lines of a never-going to be writer. Boo.

    On another note though – would you like to write fiction or something like this?

    • July 5, 2011 8:19 pm

      Thank you for having more faith in me than I have in myself! I’m still working on the comparing thing…clearly I haven’t made much progress.

  5. July 5, 2011 5:23 am

    I’ve seen this book and wasn’t sure if I’d like it. It sounds like one I should try. Thanks!

  6. July 5, 2011 5:24 am

    Yay!!! What if indeed. I think too many people take their circumstances in life for granted. Those children didn’t ask to be born into poverty. They certainly don’t deserve it. I constantly ask myself how it came to be that I got so lucky. I was one of those kids in the orphanage. My father kicked our mother onto the streets after she gave birth to a fourth daughter and no sons. I’m glad you loved this book. I’ll keep reading.

    • July 5, 2011 8:22 pm

      I am always so amazed at how much you’ve been through in your life. I’m sure you can relate to this book so much more than most people…let me know what you think when you finish!

  7. July 5, 2011 9:57 am

    I absolutely LOVED this book!!!

    • July 5, 2011 8:22 pm

      I’m so glad another person appreciate it as much as me!

  8. July 5, 2011 10:24 am

    I just requested this from the library!

    Looks like Ali hit it out of the park with your birthday gift.

  9. July 5, 2011 12:03 pm

    I loved this book too and am anxiously awaiting what comes next from this author.

  10. Leslie permalink
    July 6, 2011 7:47 am

    Ameena, your mastery grows with each post. Many book reviews are plot recitations with a dramatis personae, but not yours. You lift the essence of the book and filter your own life through it. That sleight of hand is provocative and mesmerizing. What profound questions to contemplate it.

    • July 6, 2011 6:21 pm

      Thank you Leslie! I’m glad that you appreciated my view of the book through my own experiences. I feel like it makes the review so much more interesting because otherwise why wouldn’t someone just go to to see a summary of the story?

      • July 6, 2011 6:43 pm

        BINGO! Exactly something I am writing in my post now…perhaps it’s jealously or just anger – but reading other sites reviews that simply say “I loved it” or “I couldn’t get into it” – and call it a Review. And get paid for it…um, that’s simply a personal recommendation. So I have nothing against it – but call it what it is.

        I don’t expect a detailed version of the book – no! – but at least why or how it impacted you. How it related in some sense…okay, I make no sense…

      • July 6, 2011 8:05 pm

        You make perfect sense!

  11. Galit Breen permalink
    July 7, 2011 7:11 am

    Ameena! How did I not know of this fabulous sister site of yours?! I love this and this specific review is fantastic, insightful, and since I trust you implicitly- perfect for me! XO

  12. July 14, 2011 3:12 pm

    I wish you and I could be in a book club together 🙂

  13. July 26, 2011 8:04 pm

    I wanted to thank you for recommending this book! This was the best book I’ve read in a while. I love your other blog, and then clicked through to this one as well. I will look through your other reviews to see what to read next!

    • July 27, 2011 6:54 am

      I’m so glad you liked this book as much as I did! I can’t wait for the author’s next one.

  14. sid permalink
    August 18, 2011 4:32 pm

    They made a movie out of this novel by the name of AMRITHA.It was in a south indian language(tamil),if i am not wrong i guess.

    • August 18, 2011 7:04 pm

      Really? I am definitely going to look for “Amirtha.” Maybe it has subtitles? Thank you for the suggestion!

  15. August 27, 2011 3:32 pm

    I am so glad to stumble upon your blog. I am always looking for good reviews on books to read and your place seems to be perfect. I would love to read Still Missing as well after reading your review.

    • August 28, 2011 6:44 am

      Thank you for coming by…I hope you enjoy both books. If you do read them, let me know what you think!

  16. June 16, 2012 1:40 pm

    Great review Ameena, I absolutely loved this book too. I picked it up at Costo a year ago (I think) not knowing anything about it and I’m so glad I did!

    • June 16, 2012 6:12 pm

      I’m so glad you liked the book as well Stacie. I can’t wait for the author’s next one.


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