The daughter from India : book review

Title: Secret daughter

Author:  Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Sarah’s pick

“Just as there are two Indias for the rich and the poor, there are two Indias for men and women”

 Kavita’s first daughter has been taken away from her and killed; and she knows her family will not let her keep the next baby, another girl. She bravely travels hours to Bombay while exhausted from the birth and hands the baby over to an orphanage, hoping her child will have a chance to grow up, get an education and maybe have children of her own.  

On the other side of the world, Somer, an American doctor discovers she cannot have children of her own. With her Indian born husband she decides to adopt a baby from an orphanage in Mumbai. 

These decisions form the basis of the novel as we follow the lives of Kavita, Somer and their daughter Asha. Kavita never forgets her daughter. She has a son later on. Her husband takes the family away from their rural life to try his luck in the city. For some time they live in the slums but eventually move to an apartment and a better lifestyle.  

Somer and her husband raise their daughter in California. Somer fears her daughter will bond more with her husband and resists teaching her about her Indian heritage.  

Asha feels she doesn’t quite fit in in America. As an adult she returns to India. She meets her adoptive father’s extended family and finally has a sense of belonging. She tries to track down her birth parents and discovers why she was given to the orphanage. 

The novel looks at issues of motherhood, adoption, family, loss and cultural identity.