Secret Daughter, a debut novel, has slowly but steadily become an international hit this year. It landed at #2 on the Amazon Best Books of 2010 Customer Favorites list, second only to Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.
Gowda is Canadian, where her novel is especially popular. This November article tells the story of its success, largely attributed to word of mouth by her readers.
GOWDA, Shilpi Somaya. Secret Daughter. 352p. Morrow. 2010. Tr $23.99. ISBN 978-0-06-192231-2. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Kavita, a young married woman in India, is just a teenager when she gives birth to her second baby girl. Tradition is powerful in her rural town, where sons are valued and daughters are unwanted. Kavita is terrified that this child will be killed like her older sister, so she smuggles her to an orphanage. Despite the subsequent birth of a beloved son, Kavita still yearns to know the fate of her lost daughter. Readers are able to follow the story of the daughter, Asha, who is adopted by a couple in America. Her adoptive father was born and raised in India, although her mother is solidly American. As Asha grows into her teen years, she becomes increasingly curious about her heritage and travels to India to stay with her father’s large, extended family. Teens will surely feel Kavita’s pain as she loses her daughters because of a practice that is not completely outdated in even today. Throughout the book, Kavita continues to visit the orphanage, gazing at each little girl to see if she can find her own child. Asha’s journey of self-discovery should also appeal to many teens, particularly those who were adopted as babies in faraway countries. Readers will discover, along with Asha, that families are forged in many ways–through blood, through acquired kinship, and perhaps most significantly, through persevering love.–Diane Colson, New Port Richey Library, FL