Leigh Hudgen (mhleigh) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Leigh Hudgen

Book 3: Secret Daughter

Title: Secret Daughter
Author: Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Genre: Novel

Plot: This story starts with two families, one in India and one in California. The California couple struggles with infertility, and the resulting strain this places on the marriage between Somer and Krishnan. The Indian mother has given birth to one daughter already - a daughter who was disposed of because of her gender. When Kavita gives birth to a second daughter she and her sister sneak the baby to an orphanage to give her a chance at life. When the California family travels to India to adopt baby Asha, she unknowingly becomes the thread that ties the two couples together. The novel changes perspective every few pages, moving between Somer and Krishnan and Kavita and her husband, Jasu, as the years pass. Eventually Asha's point of view also enters the story as she goes through normal teenage angst coupled with feelings of abandonment by her birth parents and a lack of acceptance from her adoptive parents.

Quote: "Somewhere in the extra giving, in the space created by generosity without score keeping, was the difference between marriages that thrived and those that didn't."

Review: Although this book had some very engaging parts, I did not enjoy it as much as other reviewers. The plot was good, but I thought the characters and the relationships between them were weak. From the first few dozen pages, episodes involving Krishnan showed him to be insensitive and self involved. This caused me to dislike Krishnan until a few more dozen pages revealed all the California players to be insensitive and self involved. Somer, why marry a guy from India and adopt and Indian daughter if you have zero interest in learning about the country, and actively resent their efforts to connect with it? Krishnan, why whine that your wife doesn't cook Indian food as well as a twelve year old could - talk to her about it or cook it your own darn self. You get the impression that the author wants you to root for the marriage between these two, but I found that difficult since no evidence that the two are actually right for each other, or that they make each other happy, is presented. It's like if you have a friend who always calls you to complain about his or her spouse - if you always just hear the negatives, you're going to hate the significant other. That being said, despite the portrayal of the characters, I was interested enough in the story to stay up late finishing to learn the outcome, which turned out to be a let down, in my opinion.

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