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Secret Daughter

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3.98  ·  Rating details ·  69,022 ratings  ·  5,479 reviews
Somer's life is everything she imagined it would be — she's newly married and has started her career as a physician in San Francisco — until she makes the devastating discovery she never will be able to have children.

The same year in India, a poor mother makes the heartbreaking choice to save her newborn daughter's life by giving her away. It is a decision that will haunt
...more
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Published July 1st 2012 by Recorded Books (first published March 9th 2010)
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Pauline Compared to a lot of the books marketed towards kids that age, I think this is much cleaner. Yes, there are details about gender selection but there i…moreCompared to a lot of the books marketed towards kids that age, I think this is much cleaner. Yes, there are details about gender selection but there is no graphic content of any kind. I would allow my 12 year old to read it. (less)
Ally I read this to imply that it was a letter she wrote after she decided not to meet them in their apartment. A letter in which she came to terms, as an …moreI read this to imply that it was a letter she wrote after she decided not to meet them in their apartment. A letter in which she came to terms, as an adult, with her relation to them. She realizes that while they could not care for her, or they didn't want her, for whatever reason, they brought her to the orphanage and gave her a different life. Hope, if you will. She realizes of all that she has seen in the slums, how easily she could have been one of those children. She doesn't seek them out, not knowing what she will get from them. But she leaves the letter for them, out of a reflection on who she is, and that she will satisfy their curiosity about her. She loves them too, in her own sense, just as they do her. Think about it, Kavita doesn't seek out information from the orphanage until she sends Jasu, possibly while she is on her deathbed. She had her own demons about the whole affair, in her life. Asha managed hers by leaving the letter, but not seeking them out. Does that help? (less)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  69,022 ratings  ·  5,479 reviews


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K
Jan 01, 2011 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
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Jacquie
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Shayantani
Jun 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tara by: Janet
Shelves: arc, india, 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
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Patty
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Pamela
Emotionally impacting, culture intense, and intricately engaging. Secret Daughter is a tightly written, realistic novel exploring family dynamics in relation to infertility, adoption, economics, poverty/wealth, and mixed culture relationships; moreover, it's a novel exploring the complexities of the unique cords forever binding (in one form or another) mothers and daughters - daughters and mothers.

"Sometimes, as she has well learned in life, one's actions must precede the emotions one hopes to
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Omnia
May 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Barbara
Shout out to GR friend Pamela who steered me to this wonderful novel. I hadn’t heard of it before she reviewed it. What a story! Author Shilpi Somaya Gowda did her research in learning the Indian Cultures and the amazing disparity of cultures and languages within India. For example, I didn’t realize there are twenty-one major languages in India, as well as English. Although there is significant wealth in India, there is also major poverty and backward customs. Female infanticide was rampant just ...more
Melanie
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-i-own
I really like books set in India as I find their culture fascinating. I enjoyed the last part of the book the most as it's mainly set in India. Moving story of adoption and learning who your family is.
kim
Feb 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Stephanie Anze
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
3.5 stars

Somer meets Krishnan while both are attending medical school in California. They fall in love and eventually marry. They have it all but their lives change when they discover that Somer can not have children, which is her dream. Krishnan, who is from India, suggests adopting from his home country. Somer is reluctant at first but ultimately agrees. In india, Kavita gives birth to another girl, a child that she can not afford to keep. She makes a choice to bring her daughter to an orphana
...more
Elaine
Jun 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Sue
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Secret Daughter is a story about people and the paths their lives take. The characters are real,interesting, flawed, and you care about them. At the same time, Somaya Gowda manages to paint an extraordinarily rich portrait of modern India – the sharp contrast between its poverty and wealth, its traditions and culture. I feel I’ve experienced something of India although I’ve never been there.

Shilpi Somaya Gowda has written a captivating first novel about the meaning of family, motherhood, adopti
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Dem
Dec 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Secret Daughter is a novel about two couples on opposite sides of the world and the common thread is their daughter, The novel spans 20 years of both families from America to India, I love reading novels about different coultures and this is a great read and a real page turner, an interesting novel overall.
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
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Magill
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
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Irene
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An infant daughter is left at a Mumbai orphanage because the family is too poor to raise her. An infertile Indian-American couple, both doctors, adopt her providing her with opportunities and affection. The chapters alternate between Asha’s life in California and her brother’s life in Mumbai. This is an often told story, siblings separated at birth, one to a life of privilege the other to a life of deprivation. This is an unremarkable theme told with unremarkable prose falling into cliché whenev ...more
Sheziss
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.
Esil
Apr 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really pulled me in. I had the good fortune of being able to read most of it on a long plane ride, so I didn't have to put it down. I liked the two parallel stories and how they were interwoven. To me, the only obvious flaw was that the character of the American mother seemed a bit pat and superficial. The idea of looking through the eyes of an American woman married to a man who immigrated to the US from India as a young adult was interesting, but the perspective lacked the subtlety o ...more
Myrna
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Great parallel stories of an American woman and Indian woman connected by one child. It was enjoyable to learn a bit about the Indian culture with the author's vivid descriptions. Many topics are touched in this novel such as adoption, self-discovery, and what truly makes a family. The ending was emotional. It will stay with me.
☮Karen
Book club read #5 April 1 2017.

From the princetonbookreview.com: "A stunning debut novel that explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity and culture, witnessed through the lives of two families, one Indian, one American, and the daughter who indelibly binds them."

My book club absolutely loved this and thought it our best read yet. I was odd one out, as I was bothered by the changing points of view and the up-in-the-air ending. I liked her second book more and gave it 3 stars t
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Angela Haygood
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a rich deep story of family...love and loss. This is a must read!
Ameena
Jul 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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DubaiReader
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Janice
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;
adoption;
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
...more
Jennifer
Sep 21, 2011 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
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 discover th
...more
mindful.librarian ☀️
Loved this story of adoption, family, international travel and India!

For read alikes, try these:

The Leavers by Lisa Ko
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Maladi
Madhulika Liddle
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,
...more
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63,861 followers
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 was a New York Times and #1 international bestseller, and was translated into over 30 languages. Secret Daughter was shortlisted for the South African Boeke Literary Prize, longlisted for ...more

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