Secret Daughter By Shilpi Somaya Gowda

  I was  in hospital for surgery last week, and as I expected to stay 3 nights, I took this book along with me to read; I mean really, other than for walking along the corridors, holding on to my over medicated pain ridden innards, and nodding a pleasant good morning or evening, to others who grimace out their own reply, what else was I going to do? so once I received my morning meds, I took out this book to read, feeling  better already that I could keep my head about me enough to do so. Um, not so easy once I got home… anyway.. It is beautifully written, profound in exotic ways as it captures that perfect mix of  joy borne out of tragedy, cross cultural clashes and an indomitable  love that crosses all boundaries.

Somer and Krishnan ( Kris for short), lead blissful newly wed lives in my favorite city of all time – San Francisco. Every place they mentioned including the UCSF campus brought me joy… Somer is a pediatrician, ready to take on the world until she has two miscarriages. That sense of helplessness one feels when one discovers an inability to have children, leaves her feeling less than whole and unable to function, as she deals with the consequences of not being able to give birth to her own child.  Going to a friend’s baby shower makes her insecure and inadequate as her personal tragedy begins to affect her life and relationship with Kris.

Meanwhile in the tiny village of Dahanu, India, Kavita and Jasu live conflicted lives. Kavita with the beautiful eyes is dealing with the consequences of giving birth to two girls in a row, when Jasu’s only hope – well, actually not just Jasu, for it is the hope of his entire family- is for that boy, a prince they call him, one who would be their pride and joy, one who would carry their name forever. Kavita tore my heart in as much for her sacrifices as for her very personal tragedy, I really did feel her pain, for as a mother I could not believe what she was made to endure. I felt personally attached to this being, and I commend the author for getting me so involved in this character. Jasu, you will find is not a bad man. He is misguided, gullible and uneducated. I wanted to shake him.

Kris and Somer somehow make it to India after this tragedy with the hope of adopting a baby. Somer is met with some very disapproving in-laws and a slew of  cultural rules of etiquette she knows nothing about as she continues to make mistakes that offend her mother-in-law, and Kris who has managed to keep his Indian family separate from his American wife and life, begins to regret that huge division.

I love the author’s subtle nuances of joy and sorrow. I love the strong female characters and how she brought out my own emotions. I praise the whole story about adoption and bringing to light the grief and joy of being a parent. I also loved that she lets you know in her own way – there is no difference in unconditional love whether your child is adopted or biological, once you are a parent, you will always be a parent.

I really recommend this book!