Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

courtesy: booksaremyheroine.

Summary courtesy of Goodreads:

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 American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.  Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, “Secret Daughter” poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families–one Indian, one American–and the child that indelibly connects them.

I’ve had this on my TBR list for a while and after being absorbed by ROOM, I needed a book that would take me as far away from those themes as possible.  It did and it didn’t.  I was still confronted by the sacrifices mothers make for their children and by the victimization of women – but in a much different way.

I loved the omniscient narrator – Gowda makes sure to tell us everyone’s story: the birth family, the adoptive extended family, the adoptive parents and the adopted girl, Asha.  I loved knowing what every character felt and experienced as a consequence of their actions and the actions of others.

Despite this, I couldn’t shake the feeling the whole time I was reading that Somer, the adoptive mother, got a raw deal. I felt her frustration and pain as she learned of her infertility and when she finally became a mother through adoption it was wonderful.  Except, the happiness I expected her to revel in never came to fruition.  It seems like throughout her daughter’s upbringing, Somer was in a constant battle – with her husband, with social expectations, with her daughter and with herself.

I felt like I was reading two different books.  One book was about the parents and the other about the girl’s coming of age and journey of self-discovery.  At some point these converge – but I didn’t buy it when they did.  I don’t know – it felt like these characters did a lot to hurt and alienate each other, but in the end it’s all “happily ever after”?  Real life isn’t quite so neat…since this book seemed to look at the mess that life can sometimes be its conclusion seemed odd to me.  Nonetheless, I was fascinated by Dadima (Asha’s grandmother) and Kavita (Asha’s birth mother) and loved reading their stories.

Altogether, this is a good book.  It has solid characters and a strong plot.  It’s also a fascinating look at Indian culture.

WWW Wednesdays asks three questions every week for WWW Wednesdays.  Check out the blog for MizB’s responses.  I think it’s a good, quick way to keep readers updated on what’s going on in my reading world.  Here are my answers:

What are you currently reading? I’m on page 245 of Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s Secret Daughter

What did you recently finish?  ROOM by Emma Donoghue

What do you think you’ll read next? I think I might continue with Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Wanna play along?  Send me your answers to these questions or answer them at

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer TBR List

(a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish)

This week’s top ten list is all about summer reading.  I recently published my summer TBR list, since then I have come across some tantalizing titles that I would love to delve into once my short summer list is done.  First you’ll see a recap of my Summer Reads (#1-5), followed by my “if-I-have-time-wanna-reads” (#6-10).

1.  Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

2. Wild Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

3.  The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

4.  The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

5.  Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (kinda regretting this choice…we’ll see how it goes!)

6.  Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda – because every time I pick it up I really want to read it, but there’s other things that keep me from it.  Hope to read it by the end of the year in any case…

7.  Graceling by Kristin Cashore – found this recommended by other sights and on Goodreads.  Love novels about girls that kick ass.

8.  Something by Phillipa Gregory – girls kicking ass Tudor-style.  Or at least I’d like to think so…She has published so many books, I’m having trouble narrowing it down to one.  I’ve read one historical fiction novel (The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane) and rather enjoyed it.  Several readers recommended historical fiction as a genre.  I might take them up on it.

9.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgentsern – like Secret Daughter, this is one I pick up and put back down again – at first I felt ambivalent…but after reading a few great reviews I think it is a must read for me.

10.  As much as I’d love for there to be a #10, this spot is reserved for work-related reading I’ll have…Alice Walker, Carol Ann Duffy, Kate Chopin, Oscar Wilde…plus figure out how to teach them. Fun times ahead.

So, what’s on your Summer TBR list?