Secret Daughter

By Shilpi Somaya Gowda
(William Morrow Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780061928352, 368pp.)

Publication Date: April 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the April 2010 Indie Next List
“Secret Daughter is the story of Asha, a daughter given up by her rural Indian mother in an attempt to give her a better life. Somer, Asha's adoptive mother in California, grapples with her daughter's return to her birth country as a young woman.The two families, intertwined by a twist of fate, will capture your heart.”
-- Caitlin Doggart, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, MA


Description

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 Kavita for the rest of her life, and cause a ripple effect that travels across the world and back again.

Asha, adopted out of a Mumbai orphanage, is the child that binds the destinies of these two women. We follow both families, invisibly connected until Asha’s journey of self-discovery leads her back to India.

Compulsively readable and deeply touching, Secret Daughter is a story of the unforeseen ways in which our choices and families affect our lives, and the indelible power of love in all its many forms.




About the Author

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 BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1991, she spent a summer as a volunteer in an Indian orphanage. She has lived in New York, North Carolina, and Texas, and currently makes her home in California with her husband and children.




Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. On the way to the orphanage in Bombay, Kavita reflects on "what power there is in naming another living being." She gives her daughter the name Usha at birth, but she is later raised by her adoptive parents as Asha. Kavita's name changed when she was married, and her given name reappears again later in the story. Even Krishnan becomes known as "Kris" in America. What is the significance of these changing names throughout the story? How are names intertwined with your own sense of identity and belonging?




Praise For Secret Daughter

“Gowda has masterfully portrayed two families... linked by a powerful, painful tie that complicates their lives... A thought-provoking examination of the challenges of being a woman in America and in India -- and in the psychological spaces in between.”
-Chitra Divakaruni, author of The Palace of Illusions

“Set in California and the teeming city of Mumbai, SECRET DAUGHTER is a beautifully composed compelling story of love, loss, discovery and the true meaning of family.”
-Anjali Banerjee, author of Imaginary Men

Fiction with a conscience, as two couples worlds apart are linked by an adopted child....A lightweight fable of family division and reconciliation, gaining intensity and depth from the author’s sharp social observations
-Kirkus

First novelist Gowda offers especially vivid descriptions of the contrasts and contradictions of modern India... Rife with themes that lend themselves to discussion, such as cultural identity, adoption, and women’s roles, this will appeal to the book club crowd.
-Library Journal

It’s moving and thought-provoking and informative and imaginative and beautifully executed. What a wonderful story!
-Mary Jane Clark, author of Dying for Mercy

The Secret Daughter is a deeply moving and timeless story of an adopted daughter’s long distance search for cultural identity and acceptance; first with the mother who raised her, and ultimately with the mother who gave her up.
-Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter

In her engaging debut, Gowda weaves together two compelling stories… Gowda writes with compassion and uncanny perception from the points of view of Kavita,Somer, and Asha, while portraying the vibrant traditions, sights, and sounds of modern India.
-Booklist

This wise debut moves deftly between the child’s two mothers and cultures.
-Good Housekeeping

A No. 1 bestseller in Canada, “Secret Daughter” tells a nuanced coming-of-age story that is faithful to the economic and emotional realities of two very different cultures.
-Washington Post

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