Thursday 16 October 2014

BB: Secret Daughter review

BB: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda Review

From the publisher: “In a tiny hut in rural India, Kavita gives birth to Asha. Unable to afford the 'luxury' of raising a daughter, her husband forces Kavita to give the baby up--a decision that will haunt them both for the rest of their lives.

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 her husband Krishnan shows her a photo of baby Asha sent to him from a Mumbai orphanage, she falls instantly in love. As she waited for adoption to be finalized, she knew her life would change. But she was convinced that the love she already felt would overcome all obstacles.

In a braided narrative that unites the stories of Kavita, Somer and Asha, SECRET DAUGHTER, the debut novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss and belonging. As the story moves between the two families, one struggling to eke out an existence in Mumbai, the other grappling with the challenge of raising a brownskinned child from another culture, Gowda poignantly parses issues of culture, identity and familial loyalty”

For once it is a novel and not a graphic novel that is being reviewed here. Technically it is ink on paper and… yeah, I’m stretching it. Anyway Secret Daughter, for the most part, is a solid book. I will not go into detail about the ending but… let’s just say it undermines pretty the entire book and renders it pointless. The book also has some odd messages about India. If it is attempting to positively portray the country it really fails in that regard. Despite it’s futile attempts to make Kavita’s husband sympathetic later on he is by far the least likeable member of the cast.

His mentality is pretty much the standard for the people of India at least in the context of this book. To be fair the majority of the cast is difficult to like and we spend little time outside India aside from some brief chapters with Somer who herself is rather unlikable. It may just be the author is incapable of creating sympathetic characters Kavita aside. Also worth noting several subplots are never resolved and the book fails to actually tie its plot threads together. The book as a whole comes across more as a series of vaguely related vignettes which I am pretty certain was not the original intent. So in conclusion Secret Daughter is not a very good debut novel. It has several good moments and for the most part is well written but it fails to create cohesive hole in the end.

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