Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Secret Daughter” as Want to Read:
Secret Daughter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Secret Daughter

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  51,622 Ratings  ·  4,456 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
Hardcover, 339 pages
Published March 15th 2010 by William Morrow (first published 2010)
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
25th out of 498 books — 1,559 voters
Mockingjay by Suzanne CollinsSpirit Bound by Richelle MeadClockwork Angel by Cassandra ClareLast Sacrifice by Richelle MeadRoom by Emma Donoghue
Best Books of 2010
73rd out of 1,315 books — 2,415 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 04, 2011 K rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southasia, ebooks
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
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
Shayantani Das
Jan 17, 2012 Shayantani Das rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jhumpa Lahiri fans..
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 it was amazing
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
Aug 07, 2012 Jacquie rated it it was ok

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
Наталия Янева
Търсенето на себе си винаги таи някаква притегателна сила. Даже понякога си мисля, че ако хората знаеха кои са, без да полагат усилие за това, животът им би бил доста безцелен. А хората обичат добрите неразказани истории. Дори да са техните собствени. Особено ако са техните собствени.

„Изгубената дъщеря“ ме разтърси на няколко равнища. Сама по себе си историята е относително класически низ от невъзможни събития и съвпадения (или поне надвишаващи средностатистическата вероятност) с хора, чиито жи
Jun 25, 2011 Omnia rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 24, 2011 Patty rated it it was ok
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
Feb 16, 2011 Doreen rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
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
Jul 17, 2015 kim rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 08, 2013 Elaine rated it really liked it
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
I had read half the book and when my American teacher left, so I was glad I didn't have to finish it. Seriously boring, but she was a nice person, so I tried it for her. Phew.
Oct 23, 2010 Nancy rated it it was ok
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
Alison DeLory
Mar 27, 2011 Alison DeLory rated it liked it
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
Jul 06, 2011 Ameena rated it it was amazing
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
I would like to give this 2-1/2 stars.

Secret Daughter was an okay read. It was fairly innocuous. I thought that the author played safe with the subject matter she wrote about.

The themes were:

infanticide of girl babies in India;
extreme poverty in India;
mother/daughter relationships;
interractial relationships...

The author could have really pulled at my heartstrings. Instead, it was more like reading a Harlequin romance without the romance.

This book would have made a great series. The firs
Sep 21, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Madhulika Liddle
Jan 25, 2016 Madhulika Liddle rated it liked it
Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s debut novel, Secret Daughter, is about daughters. It's also about sons and husbands and wives and grandmothers, but the primary relationship she focuses on is that between mother and daughter. Mothers and daughters, whether bound by blood or not; mothers and daughters, whether they know each other by face or not.

In 1984, a poor village woman, Kavita, realizes that the only way she can keep her newborn baby daughter alive is by giving her away to an orphanage: her husband,
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
Nov 06, 2010 DubaiReader rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 18, 2010 Teresa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
Mary Aalgaard
Sep 23, 2015 Mary Aalgaard rated it it was amazing
At first, I didn't like this book because of the opening scene. It is hard for me to read about cruelty towards children and about a culture that aborts and throws away their daughters while holding up their sons like royalty. And, yet, I was hooked. I needed to know what happened to that baby girl that was left at an orphanage in India. In the end, I learned more about international adoption and what it does to the hearts of those involved, the mothers who must give away their daughters in hope ...more
Učitaj se!
May 09, 2015 Učitaj se! rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
'Tajna kći' priča je o dvije žene, koje žive na suprotnim stranama svijeta, i njihove dvije različite sudbine, te o jednom djetetu, koje te dvije žene povezuje.

Ispod teme majčinstva, ovaj roman progovara i o problemu siromaštva i života u bijedi u predgrađima Mumbaija, gdje obitelji žive u strašnim uvjetima, bez vode i struje, u bijednim straćarama bez ikakve zaštite i sa slabim mogućnostima da se iz te bijede izbave. Koliko god težak bio život u predgrađu, koje je zapravo ništa drugo do naselje
Jun 04, 2010 Emily rated it it was amazing
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
Lydia Laceby
Jul 18, 2012 Lydia Laceby rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-must-read
Originally Reviewed at Novel Escapes

Every once in a while I want to read something other than chick lit and am always thrilled when I randomly pick up something wonderful. Secret Daughter wasn’t recommended to us by anyone, rather, I liked the premise of the story, loved the cover and discovered while reading it that I loved the book as well! This beautiful story hooked me from the beginning and I’ve thought about long since finishing. It would make a wonderful Mother’s Day gift for any of you s
May 03, 2010 BoekenTrol rated it it was amazing
Recommended to BoekenTrol by: karen07814

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
Nov 18, 2013 Britany rated it liked it
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
 Barb Bailey
Jan 08, 2016 Barb Bailey rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were well developed, likable and believable. Story gives good insight to what life in India may be like . Also I gleaned what it might be like to marry someone of a different nationality or adopt a child from another country. A poor couple in India have a girl child and can only afford one child.The husband wishes for a boy to help him on the farm. So as is the custom, the girl Asha , is given up for adoption . A well to do interracial couple in America ...more
May 15, 2012 Dawn rated it it was amazing
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
Jess Pillera
Mar 21, 2013 Jess Pillera rated it it was amazing
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 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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
UB Libraries Book...: Secret Daughter 14 6 Apr 04, 2016 05:55AM  
Around the Year i...: Secret Daughter, by Shilpi Somaya Gowda 3 16 Mar 01, 2016 07:25AM  
Amnesty Internati...: October 2015 - Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda 5 18 Dec 02, 2015 08:07PM  
Let's Talk Love S...: Secret Daughter - Buddy Read 13 6 May 15, 2015 08:51AM  
book review 17 245 Sep 01, 2014 06:09PM  
  • The Birth House
  • The Beauty of Humanity Movement
  • The Weight of Heaven
  • Rush Home Road
  • The Midwife of Venice
  • In the Convent of Little Flowers
  • A Disobedient Girl
  • Chai Tea Sunday
  • Alone in the Classroom
  • The Forbidden Daughter
  • Emancipation Day
  • Any Known Blood
  • Love Anthony
  • Sisters of the Sari
  • Best Kept Secret
  • Cool Water
  • Haunting Bombay
  • The Best Laid Plans
Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. In college, she spent a summer as a volunteer in an Indian orphanage, which seeded the idea for her first novel, Secret Daughter, published in 2010. It became an international bestseller, selling over 1 million copies worldwide, and has been translated into 24 languages. Her second novel, The Golden Son, is being published in late 2015-ea ...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.” 58 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.” 33 likes
More quotes…