This is for Rashmi, I had been planning to review it since ages, but had not gotten around to doing it yet.
The Secret Daughter came heavily recommended and I have to say, I was definitely not disappointed.
Kavita, a woman in a village gives birth to a daughter. Rather than let her die, she fights against odds and comes to Bombay to drop her off in an orphanage. Her previous baby had been killed as soon as she was born, and Kavita did not want to take any chances.
Another couple from America, an Indian man married to an American woman, Somer, long for a baby. When they find out that they can never become biological parents, they adopt the little girl abandoned by Kavita. Kavita had named her Usha, but it gets changed to Asha. Asha grows up in relative comforts in America, while her birth family’s fortunes change and brings them to Mumbai.
Their lives so far apart, and yet linked in a way that they are unaware about. The struggles that each of them face is etched into the story. Somer despite being given a chance at motherhood, faces an alienation from both her husband and her daughter when they both identify with a culture and a way of life that is so alien to her. She lives in dread of the day when she loses her daughter. Kavita and her husband live with their own personal demons for giving up their daughter. Asha struggles to understand who she is. She wants to know more about her orgins. The answers her adoptive parents give are not enough for her.
Asha finally finds a way to go back to India, much to Somer’s distress. She believes that Asha by going back to India, is rejecting her in some way. Somer’s husband’s support of the idea, convinces her that she is the ‘outsider’ in the family. Asha and Krishnan have a common heritage, at the very least.
The book is an interesting read, and the issues that she explores are very real. Asha’s equation with her parents, her turmoil. Kavita’s sadness and her guilt. Somer’s confusion, and her reactions to the decisions her daughter makes, are all very real and understandable. The difficulty of bringing up a child from a different ethnicity is also brought out well. I could not wait to complete the book, because you desperately want everything to work out.
It is an interesting read and I would rate it at 3.5/5.