Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Book Review: The Secret Daughter

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From Goodreads:

"On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter's life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.
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 she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.
Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families—one Indian, one American—and the child that indelibly connects them"

The Secret Daughter is a beautifully written, uplifting and heartbreaking love story about the unconditional love between mothers and daughters. It is a testimony to the bonds shared by those born to us and to those who, through circumstance and fortune, come into our lives. Motherhood presents such a wide variety of emotions and it is as wild and unpredictable as it is beautiful and overwhelming. As I read this story, I found myself incredibly grateful that I was never forced to give up my own daughter, or hide her away, or never tell anyone about her the way Kavita had to give up Asha. I simply couldn't imagine the pain and the heartache that would associated with that. I had great admiration and respect for Kavita to make the decision to take Usha to the orphanage, especially when the alternative meant possible death.
There were many aspects to this story that I found both intriguing and inspiring. I particularly liked the way Asha's adopted family was connected with her Indian heritage through Krishnan. I felt as though it was a logical and clear way to bring the two worlds together. I also admired the struggles that Somer and Asha went through that still had the usual "mother and teen daughter" angst; but also showcased their fundamental differences in that they were not biologically related. I think at one point Somer became painfully aware of this, as did Asha, causing them to pull apart. At one point, it was unclear as to whether or not this would be a breaking point of sorts in their relationship or if it could just learn to be accepted. To me, the story portrayed Somer and Asha as two pieces in the same puzzle...just not two pieces connected together. Still, I think they come to understand that they needed each other to complete one another's story.
The ending was unexpected; and at first somewhat baffling. However, in hindsight, it was really the only way it could have ended. I think that if it had ended in a predictable fashion, the story would not have had the same impact. In their own way, each character found their happy ending, or at least a version of it.

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