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Book Review: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Gowda

Book Review: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Gowda

I received this book for free from Library for review consideration, opinions expressed are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you.

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Published by HarperCollins
Publication Date: 2010-03-09
Genres: Fiction, General
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon Kindle* | Amazon Paperback*


Poignant story about an Indian child, the mother who gives her up and the American mother who adopts her. I felt so connected to the characters that it broke my heart when the book was done. This book was responsible for starting my insatiable appetite for books, I had to find more books that made me feel the way this one did.


“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.”

My Thoughts:

This is not a book for the faint of heart. It took every ounce of strength to not cry over the stories of the two moms in the story, the American mom desperately wanting a baby and her bouts with infertility and the Indian mom yearning to give her daughter a good life and missing her every day. I can relate to them both and their agonizing decisions and journey through motherhood. Their trials, tribulations and joys are so perfectly detailed by the author. I was enthralled with this book from the first page and it did not disappoint.

Being an Indian-American, I love hearing her descriptions of the glorious food and life in India. The author knows how to pull at my heartstrings with this one, it reminds me of visiting my grandparents and how I miss them. I look forward to reading her newest book, The Golden Son* hopefully other works by this talented author.

Favorite Quotes:

“At some point, the family you create is more important than the one you were born into.”

“She knows that making it to the orphanage in the city is the only chance Usha has. Usha, dawn. The name came to her in the quiet hours of early morning after the midwife left them alone. It echoed in her mind as she gazed at her baby girl, trying to memorize every detail of her face. Amid the first rays of light that crept into the hut, as the cocks crowed the daybreak, Kavita silently named her daughter.”

“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.”

“It has been more than twenty years since she lost her two daughters here, the one who was never given a name or a life, and her precious Usha. With thoughts of Usha comes the physical ache in her heart. There has not been a day since Usha’s birth that Kavita has not thought of her, mourned her loss, and prayed for the hollow feelings of grief to melt away. But God has not listened. Or else he has not yet forgiven her. Because the heartache has endured.”

What books made you cry? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, happy reading!

About Shilpi Somaya Gowda

From author’s website: “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. In 1991, she spent a summer as a volunteer in an Indian orphanage, which seeded the idea for her first novel, Secret Daughter. A native of Canada, she has lived in New York, North Carolina, and Texas. She currently makes her home in California with her husband and children.”

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  1. Sounds great. Be watching the reviews with interest. I’m not Good Housekeeping Kitchen so I always welcome recipe feedback, I’m also still learning to convert from UK to US measurements so sometimes things go awry!

    This is my absolute fave salmon recipe

    I love asian food so anything with ginger is good with me….

    For kid-friendly recipes, kind of depends how veggie friendly yours are. I find the pea pesto on my site goes down well (something about bright green sauce seems to appeal, it’s been renamed shrek sauce and monster slime depending on the kids) and so does the moussaka. Oh and the banana-oat muffins or gingerbread bars are always a hit but then you have to handle kids with a sugar-high 🙂

  2. This book sounds great, I might pick it up. The themes really speak to me although reading about Indian food always makes me hungry and long for my Grandma’s cooking (she lived there years and learnt to cook so many amazing dishes).

    Also thrilled my blog is on your RA Resources page! Really lovely – do let me know if there are any recipes or nutrition q’s you want to see on it. I’ll be stopping by here again for more book reviews 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by Kate and leaving a comment. I long for my mom’s Indian cooking as you must long for your Grandmas. That’s so great she learned to cook Indian food, I try but it never comes out as good as my Mom’s!

      My blog will also have my reviews on recipes, how my family likes it and how easy they are to prep with my RA hands. I call that part my RA Test Kitchen so I hope you stay tuned, if I try one of your recipes, I will be sure to link it back to your site. I love trying new recipes, and if I can find recipes like those on your site to help manage my RA, even better! I am moving my blog over from blogger where it’s been the past year (, the book reviews were updated first, the RA and recipe links will be updated next!

      I look forward to trying your recipes, I have read we should limit intake of dairy and sweets, that will be hard to do so I can use all the help I can get! What is your favorite salmon recipe or kid friendly recipe?

      Thanks! Tanya

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