Now I realized April approaching and my target of 52 books but realized I was well behind the schedule to just put all my weight on the gas pedal.
So I would start with the review of the first book that I finished this week, “Secret Daughter” by Shilpi Somaya Gowda.
Now this is a different book, it is that sort of book that you get to read once in a while and stirs something inside you. It’s a nice story of a mother who had to give away her daughter to an orphanage on her birth because of social stigma attached with giving birth to a girl in Indian society. The girl is adopted by an American mother (married to an Indian) who is unable to conceive. The book takes us through the vagaries of the Indian society and how deals with the lifetime of the mother Kavita and her daughter Asha.
The daughter is raised in the U.S. but her quest for her biological parents brings her to India and then after a long quest she receives a shock regarding the reason for her to be put in an orphanage. The story also deals with the pain of Somer (Asha’s foster-mother) who is unable to conceive even though she herself is a gynecologist. The pain and humiliation (supposed) of not having a baby is well depicted by the author. The story is also about Krishnan (Somer’s Indian husband) his longing to return to his motherland and be with his family, how he adjusts to American style still holding tight to his Indian roots.
The book is a very good read and as I said earlier the story is beautiful. Often while reading it reminded me of “The Namesake” but it certainly is not that high quality. I am not too sure how aware is the author about Indian ways of life and though she seems to have technically got things right but it still felt like an outsider narrating an Indian story. There was something missing… I can’t pinpoint what but it surely didn’t rank as high as “The Namesake” for me.
One specific passage where the grandmother asks Asha to lit the funeral pyre of her grandfather was a very bad read. It served no purpose, was out of touch with Indian sensibilities and neither had any effect on the story. I really don’t know what was the author thinking when she put it there. Some characters are not well described although they seem to be important, like Asha’s grandfather. The reason (if there was one) was not convincing why Somer and Krishnan break-up. Then suddenly there is a narrative where Somer’s mother is detected breast cancer and then she is gone from the story. Kavita’s son Vijay’s character is left in the middle, his reasons for becoming a criminal are not explained, what happened with him later is not explained, then in the end suddenly so many pages are dedicated to Kavita’s mother’s death and her father’s dealing with that situation although there is absolutely no introduction about them in the beginning of the book, etc.
So all in all there were many gaps in the story and as I said it sounded like a story by someone from outside India and doesn’t touch you that deep but the plot of the story does stir something inside you.
It’s difficult to deal with so many issues in one story and you need to be an insider to understand the mindset of why people do what they do. But its a good first effort by the author and I hope to read a better handled story by the author in future.