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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Review - Shilpa Somaya Gowda's Secret Daughter

This is my first book done for my First Challenge entered into! The challenge is linked to the South Asian Challenge 2011 - S Krishna's books.
I am so happy that I started with this book. I like stories in this kind of setting. Immigrants generally bring with them so much history and culture normally totally different to their new country. People generally emigrate to somewhere totally different to what they usually have. I wonder why that is? In a lot of cases there is economic reasons for the emigration and in so many others it is a question of personal security. It is a problem that has also been part of my own life because my children were sent by us overseas for purely security reasons. Now that the war is over that reason is obsolete but they have gotten so used to being in a foreign land that they will not return. That is our personal cross that we have now learnt to bear.
Secret Daughter is slightly different - it deals with another subject close to my heart - adoption. In this Asha or really Usha has been adopted at birth by a warm, loving family of Krish and Somer an Indian-American couple who love her as their own. On the other side of the world we have Usha's birth parents struggling to survive with their son. From dirt poor rural beginnings they move to the big city and survive they do by dint of hard work and some wheeling dealing by their son.
The story begins mainly when Usha grows up and decides to move back to Mumbhai not just to find her roots but also to work as a journalist highlighting life in the slums of Mumbhai and to see life from another perspective.
The story of Usha is heart breaking and heart warming. Her exposure to poverty hitherto unknown in her comfortable American life, her experience of mind boggling wealth amidst so much poverty, her exposure to female infanticide which hits her very hard, and her final realization of her mother's love - both her birth and her adopted mother are subjects which everyone should read about.
This book does not deal with just cross cultural issues, it deals with matters of the heart. Why we act the way we do and the extent to which mothers do go to safeguard their young. The fact that mothers will fight anything and anyone to protect their young is reiterated in this book. The harsh realities of back breaking poverty, the second or third rate position of wives and the fact that female infants have no real value in rural India are secondary features of the book. Hopefully things are changing and one day soon these may be things of the past. What is important in this book are the over riding love of family, the deep implications of the love and support which an extended family can give one, and that it is very important for us not to lose sight of who we are - wherever we may be.
I would recommend everyone reading this book. An absolutely fascinating find for me.


  1. Great review. I like the sound of this one, could be fiction that I would enjoy :)

  2. Nice review Mystica

    I added this one after reading SKrishna's review so its nice to see you like it also.

    Happy New Year to you look forward to your reviews this year.

  3. So glad to see your good review. I've read others in the past few months so the book is definitely on my TBR list.
    Happy New Year!

  4. I received this from Mrs Q and can't wait to read it soon. She's raved about it and now after reading your review I so have to do it sooner than later.

  5. This sounds like as very interesting book-I was struck to recall when I read this in your post "Immigrants generally bring with them so much history and culture normally totally different to their new country" that the very last thing an immigrant will give up is the food of his culture-he will let his clothes, his language, even his religion go by the wayside but he or she will still want the food they were raised with-just an observation-maybe it is wrong

  6. I just started reading this yesterday.

  7. Great review Mystica - I've added a link to your review from my post.