Secret Daughter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Secret Daughter

by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  34,771 ratings  ·  3,627 reviews
On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter's life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an Amer...more
Hardcover, 339 pages
Published March 15th 2010 by William Morrow
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniA Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Best South Asian Fiction
26th out of 323 books — 1,151 voters
Mockingjay by Suzanne CollinsSpirit Bound by Richelle MeadClockwork Angel by Cassandra ClareLast Sacrifice by Richelle MeadLinger by Maggie Stiefvater
Best Books of 2010
72nd out of 1,137 books — 2,269 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
K
Meh. Not a bad story, but too superficially rendered for my taste.

Kavita, a poor village woman, has just given birth to an infant daughter she names Usha. Terrified that her husband will murder the daughter because she's a girl, she journeys to Mumbai to place Usha in an orphanage. Meanwhile, Somer and Krishnan, a California couple struggling with infertility, decide to adopt an Indian orphan and end up with Usha. The book follows the twists and turns in these characters' lives as Kavita and her...more
Tanu Das
Such a beautiful story!! Kavita and Jasu are a poor but loving couple living in the rural town of Dhanau, India. In a society that favors boys and considers girls as a burden, Kavita has to give up her daughter to an orphanage, to protect her life. Meanwhile another couple from America, Somer and Krishnan can’t have a baby and decide to adopt, connecting the lives of these two very different couples separated by thousand of miles. And thus begins this really touching tale of their lives and the...more
Tara Chevrestt
Jan 29, 2010 Tara Chevrestt rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tara by: Janet
Shelves: india, arc, 2010-release
This is a story that beautifully and creatively tackles many controversial issues. Between Somer and Krishnan, we have an interracial marriage. (Issue one) Krishnan, an Indian man and Somer, a caucasian woman, think nothing of the difference in their cultures until a trip to India shows Somer the world from which Krishnan comes from. She does a double take and wonders how well she really knows her husband.

Issue two: motherhood. Somer wants to have a baby so bad but her body does not agree with...more
Jacquie
SPOILERS

This novel proudly boasts a #1 Canadian Bestseller sticker.
I personally can't understand why.

In 1984, an Indian woman named Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. Fearful that her husband, Jasu, will dispose of this baby the same way he did to their first daughter, Kavita and her sister deliver this baby to an orphanage in Bombay, but tell Jasu that the baby died in the night. A year later Somer and Krishnan Thakker, an American-Indian couple, adopt the baby and bring her home to California...more
Omnia
Watching so many Bollywood hits, I never saw India as I saw her through the eyes of the writer. She has the ability to take you into her world in such a captivating way; making you see all the negatives and the positives of her Homeland, and finally you have nothing but fall in love with this rich and contradicting country.
Shilpi Gowda managed to discuss fatal subjects through her book in a smooth and endearing way. With her rich characters she goes through Poverty, Identity, Motherhood, Traditi...more
Tea Jovanović
Još jedna od predivnih "indijskih" priča koja nas upoznaje s nama manje poznatim činjenicama iz indijske kulture i života... Šta znači roditi se kao žensko dete u indijskoj siromašnoj porodici... A s druge strane, večita bolna tema mnogih porodica koje ne mogu da imaju decu... Sudari dve kulture, indijske i američke i topla životna priča jedne devojčice... Nisam zanesena jogom, religijom i ostalim čudima Indije ali obožavam romane indijskih autora ili romane koji govore o Indiji... egzotičnoj ze...more
Patty
There's been a lot of buzz about this book but I found it to be an airport paperback tarted up as literature. In India a poor woman hands her daughter over to an orphanage rather then risk her being killed (as daughters aren't valued). In America, a physician and her India-born doctor husband decide to adopt a daughter (the abandoned girl) when attempts to conceive a child fail. The author bounces back and forth between the two mothers and while the tale of the Indian woman who overcomes grindin...more
Doreen
Once again I find myself in the minority regarding a book that is a best seller and has remained so for some time. I read somewhere in a review that the author did not think that the book was ready but she was encouraged by the publisher to proceed. I have to agree that I think it was not ready and that the writing is not that of a mature author. For me, many of the characters are so poorly developed and very shallow. Are we too believe that Somer who is highly educated would give so little thou...more
kim
Apr 08, 2010 kim rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to kim by: received through First Reads giveaway
Wonderful book! If this is the author's first novel, I can't wait to read her second! I won the book through the First Reads giveaway here at Goodreads, and as soon as I did, I went to the authors website and read the first few pages in the preview! After just the first chapter, I was hooked!
The story is centered around the 'secret daughter' Asha/Usha. She is born the 2nd daughter of Kavita, an Indian woman who lost her 1st daughter immediately after birth to infanticide. She is determined th...more
Jeanne
In India, Kavita gives birth to a girl and her sister helps her to spirit the baby away, to avoid the fate the first one suffered. Luckily, her third child is the cherished son that everyone hoped for.

In California, Somer and Krishnan are unable to conceive and finally decide to adopt. They visit Krishnan’s indian family and finalize the adoption of a baby girl named Asha, from an orphanage in Mumbai.

Asha’s curiosity about her heritage and her country of birth eventually lead her back to India a...more
Alison DeLory
Do you ever find a book unavoidable? Your mom is reading it, your friends are reading it, there's chatter about it on Facebook, and strangers on the bus are poring through it? Secret Daughter was such a book for me so when I saw it on a shelf in Buy the Book, my local used bookstore, I picked it up. The bookseller even chimed in with, "Great choice. It's a terrific book." My expectations were high–slightly too high in the end.

In Secret Daughter, author Shilpi Somaya Gowda juxtaposes the stories...more
Elaine
For most of the book I thought I would give it a three but it has been a long time since I cried at the end of the book.

The following are facts from the book, not a review!

The struggle for women's rights in India: infanticide of baby girls, dowry deaths, bride burning, sex selective abortions.

Bride-burning is a form of domestic violence practiced in India .It is not the same as ancient and long abolished (formally abolished in 1829) custom of Sati, where widowed women were forcefully placed on a...more
Nancy
Not a bad book but, at one point, when changing the POV yet again, it felt like it was lurching along, perhaps because the story jumped back and forth across the world combined with some large jumps in time. I think the author knew where she wanted to go but the long timeline and the multiple interior stories she wanted to tell were too much for the book.

Initially, there was little opportunity to become engaged with the characters as the time jumps meant that almost every time you read their ne...more
Jennifer
This was an easy read that I finished in a couple of days. I love stories that are about mixing cultures and this was exactly that. I was frustrated with the mother, Somer, as I just can't understand being so closed to a culture. Especially one that her desperately wanted daughter comes from. I'm not sure those two aspects of the story made sense. She almost let her infertility ruin her and yet when she finally adopted a child she didn't embrace the child's history. I know there was an attempt t...more
Bobbie
I am thrilled to have received an advance reader's edition of this book. It is the compelling story of a baby girl left in an orphanage by her impoverished mother who knew this was the girl's only chance at life. It is a powerful story of two different worlds and the love that two mothers share for the same daughter.
Sally
SECRET DAUGHTER

By,

shilpi somaya gowda



I enjoyed this story of India, adoption, culture differences, families and history.

The author takes you on a journey with Somer, a singular breadth of view, only child of well-to-do parents brought up in California and her meeting and marriage to Krishnan, a fellow intern that happens to be from India.

Somer is not a bad person at all, but has the plight of an only child that has never had to share or compromise.

The contrast is in the parallel story where we...more
Emily
Jun 04, 2010 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Emily by: Mom
This was another happy suprise read. My mom brought it home from the library and I was scrounging around for something to read...and I'm so glad I did.

I could not put this book down. Many nights I stayed up past 1:00 am reading in bed. I just had to know how it would all turn out.

The book has several "main" characters but essentially focuses on two worlds:
In one, two young bright married doctors (Indian man, American woman) are trying to have a baby. After devestating miscarriages and medical t...more
Andrea Heidebrecht
Sometimes a book becomes popular, not because it is well written, but because the subject matter is relevant to the current times (like "Still Alice," for example). "Secret Daughter" is an interesting story about a baby given up for adoption by her mother in India in order to save the baby's life. As is stated in the book "Mother India does not love all of her children equally" meaning that some baby girls are so undervalued that they are murdered by their families. But Usha (or Asha as she late...more
Karma
This is a story about mothers; the sacrifices made, the worries, the joys, and the art of allowing our children to leave us. I loved the begining, I loved the end - but there were places in the middle that I felt like slapping Somer; she was so selfish and whiny!! I loved Kavita's character, she embodied a woman who loved her husband (I will never understand how she loved him after what he did), had faith in him, and built him up into the man he became because of her patience and faith. Compared...more
DubaiReader
An excellent read.

I really enjoyed this well balanced novel - set in both India and America, it is narrated by several of the characters but never becomes confusing or dull. Many complex issues are covered, including adoption from third world countries into affluent Western families and the extreme poverty that can force a family to dispose of female offspring. I found the issues sensitively handled throughout and admit to crying towards the end. (The sure sign of a good book!).

There are several...more
Colleen Von
Shilpi Somaya Gowda has written a captivating first novel about the meaning of family, motherhood, adoption, the search for self and cultural identity. She tells the story of Asha from birth to early twenties through her own voice, that of her Indian biological mother, Kavita, and that of her American adoptive mother, Somer.

The novel is thoroughly engrossing – I read it in two days. And yet the story, characters, issues and insights have stayed with me for weeks. Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s writing i...more
BoekenTrol
May 03, 2010 BoekenTrol rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to BoekenTrol by: karen07814
http://bookcrossing.com/journal/7709993

I had difficulty putting the book down. I was completely caught up in the lives of the main characters. How well written, full of understandable emotions without being boring or exaggerating.
I nearly cried at the end, since the outcome was unexpected form one side, from another however not. That hasn't happened to me in a long time.

A woman (Kavita) gives birth to a daughter, who's taken away from her: her husband and his family want a boy, to take care of t...more
Ameena
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...more
Michelle
While the synopsis states that the story is about the bond of motherhood, Secret Daughter is also a captivating look at life in India. In fact, of the two mothers, Kavita is the one who is the most sympathetic and leads the most intriguing lifestyle, if only because she leads a harsh life that is extremely foreign to those readers who are only familiar with the western world. The cultural differences, including the unusual birth rate statistics, are exposed in an intriguing and entirely realisti...more
Britany
A daughter given up in Mumbai, a childless couple in California all converge to center around an amazing little girl named Asha.

Mumbai, 1985. Kavita Merchant gives birth to a 2nd little girl, she doesn't want Asha to face the same fate her firstborn did. Kavita makes the heartwrenching decision to take her and drop her off at an adoption agency.

Somer & Krishnan, married couple decide to adopt from India, Krishnan's birthplace. As the story progresses over the course of 20 years, we discove...more
Dawn
Loved this book.

I loved the contrast between cultures and the contrast between the male and female dynamics within those cultures. So much of the story is heartbreaking, due to circumstances beyond the characters' control: birth place, cultural norms, reproductive health issues. But there are interpersonal conflicts that are within their control. I could put myself in each of the characters' shoes and see the reasons for their actions from their points of view.

I was a little bit disappointed in...more
Teresa
This is an extremely well crafted story. The characters are multi-faceted and they and their relationships grow throughout the book. I am amazed at how nimbly the author is able to jump back and forth between Mumbai and California, and even make a few jumps in time. Secret Daughter is a smooth, compelling and wholesome read. And if you wonder how it is going to end, or think you know how it SHOULD end, just trust the author, because it is obvious Shilpi Somaya Gowda knows what she is doing. This...more
Mihaela
Чудесна книга! Достатъчно силна , за да ме развълнува, достатъчно динамична ,че да не мога да я оставя докато не я прочета , достатъчно истинска ,за да ме накара да повярвам в историята, достатъчно реална ,за да не ме кара да мисля ,че чета някаква сълзлива драма.
Великолепно разкрива и надгражда образите на героите , никой от тях не е твърде идеален , никой не е нито само лош, нито само добър.Трогна ме съдбата на Самър, почувствах я някак си близка, но и неразбрана.Сякаш тя даваше всичко от себе...more
Jess Pillera
Such a beautiful inspiring story about two families loving the same daughter, each for different reasons and in different ways. Also an interesting telling on the two sides of India...one for the wealthy and one for the poor. An inspirational story about family love and endurance to get through whatever circumstances you are born into. That no matter what kind of life you are born into there is hope and happiness if you choose to see it. A truly great read.
Nezabravka
Хубавите книги за любов, майки и деца, надежда и прошка изглежда никога няма да ни омръзнат, защото това са теми, които ни съпровождат през целия ни живот и винаги е интересно да ги видим през огледа на някой друг, другаде.
Много трогателна и майсторски разказана история.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Help with new edition 4 18 Jan 30, 2014 01:16PM  
Fiction Addiction: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda 7 9 Sep 14, 2013 04:13PM  
  • Rush Home Road
  • The Birth House
  • A Breath of Fresh Air
  • The Toss of a Lemon
  • The Dowry Bride
  • The Hero's Walk
  • The Beauty of Humanity Movement
  • Someone Knows My Name
  • The Weight of Heaven
  • A Walk Across the Sun
  • Still Alice
  • Outside the Lines
  • The Kindness of Strangers
  • Sisters of the Sari
  • A Good Indian Wife
  • Good to a Fault
  • The Midwife of Venice
  • Everything Was Good-bye
3090079
Shilpi Somaya Gowda's debut novel SECRET DAUGHTER is a New York Times and #1 international bestseller, translated into over 20 languages.

Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto to parents who migrated there from Mumbai. She holds an MBA from Stanford University, and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She spent a summer in college as a volunteer in...more
More about Shilpi Somaya Gowda...

Share This Book

“At some point, the family you create is more important than the one you were born into.” 39 likes
“Notice if you are holding your breath after inhaling, and if so, what are you afraid of letting go. Or are you holding it after exhaling, and what are you afraid of letting in.” 24 likes
More quotes…