Shilipi Somaya Gowda, Author of Secret Daughter
Secret Daughter
Blog Buzz

"[N]ot only an amazing story that demands to be read in no more than two or three sittings, but it’s a fantastic book about international adoption and the emotions, turmoil, familial relationships, self-discovery, and deep love that are inherent in any adoption. I have never read a fictional story about an adoption that gets it so right."
Mom Colored Glasses

"An extraordinary read, very convincing, with an ending that is both satisfying and disturbing. Had I known what I was in for I would not have waited so long to read Secret Daughter ... a compelling story that had me from the beginning."
Polilla Writes

"The story sucks you in right from the beginning, tugging on your emotions ... This is a book that I would highly recommend to all."
Journey Through Words

"From the slums of Mumbai to the streets of San Francisco, this book covers twenty years of growth, heartache, regret and discovery. If a book can make me shed tears that feel real, that means something ... the Indian parts of the book felt so rich and authentic ..."
The Book Nest

"I loved Secret Daughter and was engrossed in not just the story but the discussion of motherhood and of womanhood, in general. And you don't need to be a mother to enjoy the topic, either, because it's about the different types of mothers out there and is presented in a very universal way. ... this is definitely a great read and will give you a lot to think or talk about!"
Take Me Away

"[A]fter reading the first couple of chapters, I realized I was about to read not only a good book but what would turn out to be one of my favourite books. I ended up reading the whole thing within a day losing a lot of much-needed sleep ... Gowda’s writing is intense and emotional ... The emotional depth with which she writes about relationships, between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives resonated with me in a very real way."
Anna's Rambles

"I can honestly say that so far this is easily my favorite book of 2012! I found myself telling everyone I came in contact with while I was reading this book that they needed to read this book! It was just so moving and powerful for me and I felt that others needed to experience it too ... What is so captivating about Gowda's novel is that it is alternately told for the next twenty years from everyone's point of view...Secret Daughter ... makes you consider a story from all sides, wanting to discuss it with everyone, which is the best kind of story. Knowing that this is Gowda's first novel only makes me more excited to see what she has to offer next!"
Amused By Books

"[A]n intriguing, engrossing read with a wonderful message ... The story is beautifully written ... Gowda paints a beautiful portrait of both India and life in America ... There was so much going on in this novel and Gowda weaved each item in effortlessly — family, adoption, abortion, motherhood, death, castes, love, marriage, relationships, home. I loved it all ... I’d recommend it to anyone. In fact, it would make a great book-club read."
Reading in Winter

"[T]he book is, simply put, magnificent. It is a powerful story, told from multiple perspectives, that examines the ferocity of family and the magnanimity of mothers ... The story was not a simple characterization of such a complex experience fraught with powerful emotions and difficult obstacles. ... Secret Daughter spoke much more eloquently to the intricacies of human nature ... Without a single hesitation, I would recommend this novel ... There is a power in this novel that only hit me at the end."
OneDozen Ways

"[A]mazing novel ... Gowda is a great storyteller. I found it hard to put this one down because her characters, descriptions, language was so seamless. ... In the end this was a unique novel dealing with many great topics such as international adoption, India’s issues with having baby girls and culture clashing between an interracial couple." [4/5 stars]
In Sean's Opinion

"Wow. Shilpi Somaya Gowda grabs you right off the bat and just doesn’t let go. In her open, almost brazen style, she leads us through the tangled web of global life, where cultures don’t just clash, but knot together in tangles that take generations to harmonize. Gowda forces an acknowledgement that racism and sexism still exist, just on a level so subtle and complex half the time we dont even realise the quiet ways it shades our cultures. [5/5 stars]"
No One of Consequence

"This book was vivid for me right from the get go. I felt like I was taken to another world, shown the heart of living, breathing, real people. It was one of those reads I did not want to finish, but couldn’t put down ... Gowda accomplished the transitions perfectly I really felt an attachment to both families ... overall I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone."
Just Your Everyday Blessed So and So

"[A] story about the many ways to build a family, the complex relationships between mothers and daughters, and the difficulties of maintaining a sense of family through cultural and racial differences. ... It’s a beautifully told story that doesn’t pull any punches or shy away from the complexities of class or race that naturally arise in a story about international adoption ... It’s exceptionally well written and is relatable on many levels."
Competitive Non-Fiction

"It was amazing ... The story is beautifully written, and is told from the points of view of the wives, the husbands, and eventually the daughter. It brought me to tears a number of times. Read it."
Tiffany's Spot

"My Top Reads of 2011: This is definitely a page-turner – a great story that explores motherhood, identity and love."
Claire J. Deboer

"Secret Daughter is the vibrant debut novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. The author brings an astute awareness to the thoughts and feelings of an adoptee, a birthmother and an adoptive mother ... It is [the] small glimpses of life in adoption, the inner turmoil of her characters that the author captures so well ... a worthy endeavor."
Debra Baker, CUB Communicator

"I thoroughly thought this was a well-written page turner. I was immersed in this book for four days since I couldn’t put it down! .. This type of writing style is one of my favorties. There's more than one point-of-view shown and the feelings of each character is depicted."
Lush Kisses

"Loved this book. It made me cry and I love to cry in movies and when reading books. It's the beautiful story about two mothers who face the pain and trials of motherhood, while dealing with loyalty and belonging in a family."
Raising Flowers & Skids

"Secret Daughter is a quick and powerful read; it unites two cultures, portrays a mother's everlasting love for her daughter, and a daughter's hunger for finding out the truth."
Side Order of Tofu

"A recommended summer read is Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. The novel is well written, fast paced, and speaks of issues shared by many women around the world ... The descriptions of the beautiful silk saris, tastes of spicy exotic foods, and the smell of the despair of the slums, jump off the page of this novel."
Off the Shelf

"Loved this book, loved this book, loved this book! What a great story, intriguing characters and endearing moments. A pleasure to read. I thoroughly enjoyed the juxtaposition of cultures, the clash between America and India and the challenges of trying to balance the influences of each place ... Where this novel excels is in the development of these five very different characters. Each is wonderfully unique and multi-dimensional. Their personal growth and journey is well worth the read and often inspiring ...I highly recommend this book!"
Reviews from a Serial Reader

"This book portrays a very sad yet a riveting story ...[A] good book to read if you are considering adoption, one of the many ways of starting a family and the struggles of it all."
Let's Expresso

"My mom recommended Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda this past winter when I was looking for a "good" book to read (you know, a book you don't want to put down?) ... I loved that this book dealt with so many different issues, such as adoption, interracial marriages, poverty and infertility, just to name a few. I couldn't put the book down once I started it - you so badly want to know how Asha's story turns out. This was Shilpi Somaya Gowda's first novel and I am excited to see what else she publishes! I definitely recommend this one!"
Sarah's Bookstack

"This book was an International Bestseller, which can easily be believed. It's an eyeopener to how different cultures operate. ... This book is very heartwarming. I really recommend it."
Shirleymac's Book Picks

"[T]his book has been one of the best I’ve read in a while ... One of my favorite things about this book is that it’s written from the perspective of all the different characters. I loved that aspect because as I was reading, it felt like I was looking into a window of each character’s personality ... All in all, it was a fascinating book and I would highly recommend if you need a good book ... "
Life as Mr. & Mrs.

"[A] brilliant novel that explores the lives of two mothers - one Indian, one American - and the adopted child who binds their fates ... a spellbinding novel that traces the lives of two families ... full of challenges, achievements, tragedies and most important of all, overwhelming emotions. The novel is a must-read for anyone who is touched by adoption or intricate motherhood mechanisms or intercultural marriages."
Amira Abozeid, Suite101

"I read almost the whole thing on the flight ... There were a few chapters left and on my first night in the hotel, I drew a deep, hot bubble bath and read this one until the tears were streaming down my face. The emotion was so immediate and the storyline addictive. I learned a few things about the culture in India and feel like I truly gained something from having read this novel. This one was a 5-star read, without a doubt. Loved it to pieces."
Vanessa Falle Photography

"I enjoyed Secret Daughter a lot. I liked the back & forth narrative between the characters & because of that, by the end I felt I really connected with each of the main female characters. I’d definitely recommend this to women’s book clubs or it read on your own."
Suz's Treats

"Secret Daughter is poignant, moving, horrifying and hopeful all at once... This book is an interesting intersection of race, class, culture and identity. It was truly inspired."
Epic Reads

"I read Secret Daughter over a two-day span. This book was excellent ... This story really played with my emotions - I think I cried three times before page 100! (That’s a good thing)."

"Secret Daughter, the stunning debut novel from author Shilpi Somaya Gowda, is captivating, emotional, and rich in detail. The beautiful prose, intricate storylines, and riveting characters drew me in by the first chapter. I loved this book from beginning to end. ... None of the characters in Secret Daughter are one-sided; they are full of good qualities and full of flaws. This is the mark of a well-written novel. There is a great, many-layered complexity in the relationships between parent and child, husband and wife."
Cristina's Library

"Gowda does a great job of showcasing the differences between the lives of the classes in India, and the culture shock that westerners, even those of Indian descent, have when they see the beauty and history of the culture transposed with the poverty and environmental issues."
Book Addict Reviews

"I read Secret Daughter in four days. I couldn’t put it down. ... Each chapter of the book follows the perspective of the women, and occasionally the men, on both continents as it explores what family, motherhood and love really is. I learned so much about Indian culture, and about my own views on family relationships. I loved it."
Serious Reading 

"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 ... 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 ... I really recommend this book!"
Meditating Mummy

"I’m usually a big fan of stories that are told from different points of view and Secret Daughter does that really well. ... It’s a really intriguing story, told in three distinct and compelling voices, and just an overall enjoyable read as each of the stories slowly begin to intertwine."
Mayfields [Ten Best Books of the Year]

"This is a very descriptive book, evocative of many different things. It is a poignant tale ... The prose is lyrical and precise and had me in tears ... All the characters in this book are sympathetic and written with close attention to detail. ... I was even more impressed with this book because it doesn’t have the fairytale ending you might expect. The tale was all the more powerful and poignant for not taking the easiest, neatest or most obvious choice."
Caught Reading

"This story is so powerful because of it's many facets- biracial marriage, international adoption, infertility, social chasm or poor versus rich, and the ways in which families are the same, yet different. There is literally something for every reader in this book to relate to. The author does a great job in showing the domino effect of choices we make and how coincidence and fate is more of a series of connections than out of the blue experiences ... The author doesn't give us the ending you might expect, and that's actually a great thing- real life is never neat and tidy, and by allowing her characters to experience their lives as if they were real, it creates a stronger story that stays with the reader."
Bless Their Hearts Mom

What I loved most about this book was the raw emotion I found it evoked... Gowda truthfully explores the heartbreak of a marriage tested by infertility and the immense disparity between wealth and poverty. She exposes the rich cultural history if Indian heritage, as well as some of its contradictions. Gowda provides the reader an opportunity to see all sides of parenthood, marriage, family, women’s issues and cultural diversity. Secret Daughter was a novel that kept me up to all hours of the night, as the writing was beautiful, thoughtful and authentic. I actually cannot believe it was Gowda’s first novel and look forward to her next... go out and get it! I promise, you won’t be disappointed!"

"I have a seriously AMAZING read to share ... what I loved most about the story is that it had really wonderful character development; everyone is very complex and real, and I found my feelings towards certain characters surprisingly shift throughout the story. ... I'd highly recommend it!"
In the Pink & Green

"I loved it! And I am sorry to the people sitting by me at the Food Court. I should have known I would cry at the ending but I just couldn't put it down. ...I highly suggest this book to everyone... It is an amazing story of motherhood, fatherhood and the choices and sacrifices everyone in a family makes."
Ella and Elizabeth

"Gowda creates a poignant picture of two mothers ... The separate threads of the story are beautifully knitted into one smooth fabric that tells a story of society’s values, and the meaning of family."

"This book tells the story of an adoption, from the angles of the birth mother, the adoptive mother and the child, and crosses from India to America and back over a period of 20 years. ... The story is touching ... it’s unputdownable and a deserved Exclusive Books Boeke nominee."

"[T]he author captures the anguish of motherhood and a child’s search for her origins through two interwoven stories. It was hard to believe that this was Shilpi’s first novel she ties together adoption, family and search for one’s self quite nicely."

"This book was captivating to say the least. As someone who finds it hard to sit down and really spend time reading,this had me completely drawn in. I’m not sure if this was because of the fact that it was a story about a woman giving up her baby – for which I felt so much sorrow for her – or that it was so well written. It was a little slow to start off with but the author had such an ability to make you just wait ‘another page’ to see what happened before putting it down. She made me feel like I was right there with her and feeling every emotion. It’s such an insight into India ... I would really recommend this to all women especially as it really pulls at the heart strings. Love love LOVED it!!"
NZ Mum's Review

"[A] powerful story which will draw you into the hearts of the families concerned." [Kate's Pick of the Week]

"I appreciate that the author really avoids one-sided characters ... We also see a lot of the beauty in the Indian culture as well as the startling contrasts in modern-day India between the well-off and those living in horrid, fetid slums. India itself is a charcter, a well-rounded one, and the book is about both culture and family ... I loved the way it felt very real and showed that reality is rarely pure good and pure evil..."
Confessions from a Rambling Mind

"Asha’s struggles are heartbreakingly real and the descriptions of Mumbai are lovingly rendered...a touching and beautiful debut novel."
Lake Bluff Public Library

"Secret Daughter was SO good I read it in less than 48 hours. And I don’t usually like novels! The author beautifully intertwines the stories of a poor mother in India who gives up her baby for adoption and the American woman who brings that baby home."
What Lexi Reads

"Secret Daughter was my favourite summer read! I found the characters compelling and and their challenges touching. The contrasts between cultures (North American and Indian), races and social classes are interesting, and the plot is engaging/suspenseful."
Social Book Club

"Gowda tells the story with excellent detail and style and with some very interesting characters from very different walks of life. The story is ultimately an emotional journey and it’s those emotions that kept me hooked, from the American mother who feels left out to the poor Indian mother whose heart hurts at the struggles her family is going through to Asha’s maturity and realization about the mothers in her life."
Not Lost, Just Undiscovered

"Secret Daughter wrestles with ... these situations in a deft and interesting way. ... there is a subtlety, almost a sneakiness, to the degree of denial all three main characters indulge in and as things unwind you find yourself talking to the characters aloud, wanting them to shape up. An important lesson that is being offered here is the cost of unconsciously living your life on autopilot and then making some choices to wake up."
Worthington MA Library

"[I]nterweaves the story of the hazel-eyed girl and her two mothers beautifully. The basic struggles of Kavita in India differ greatly from Somer’s problems in America. However, the author shows us that even though they are in vastly different countries some issues are universal, especially for mothers. I loved the way the author vividly described India; I felt like I learned a lot about Indian culture. She also did a great job of authentically voicing the internal conflict that international adoptees feel as they grow up ... I highly recommend this book, especially if you have an interest in Indian culture or international adoption."
Chaos Is A Friend of Mine

"[O]ne of those books that stays with you long after you have finished it ... Shilpi Gowda has written a truly beautiful story about the great divide of poverty and wealth in India as well and the extent that mothers will go to protect their children."
The Bathtub Chronicles

"Secret Daughter is an unflinching yet compassionate story of mothers and daughters in a story that moves between two worlds and two families ... The sounds, scents and sights of India are vividly drawn, pulling you deeply into a culture that many have only glimpsed in movies like Slumdog Millionaire. Two worlds collide, then meld, in a story that intimately considers how we all are shaped, through fate or free will, nurture or nature, by the astounding power of family love."
Rainy's Reading Room

"Wow! So well written."
Blog Frog

"What an amazing story! This book really gives an incredible insight to the feelings, misgivings, and fears that go with adoption, infertility, interracial relationships as well as an array of other topics that can be touchy and emotionally taxing. One of the most beautiful parts of this book, however, is the way it portrays motherhood through the eyes of each of the women in this story. Truly a beautiful story about family, motherhood, heritage and how deep those connects truly can run." [5/5 stars]
Frivolous Indecision

"Loved this book, loved this book, loved this book! What a great story, intriguing characters and endearing moments. A pleasure to read ... Where this novel excels is in the development of these five very different characters. Each is wonderfully unique and multi-dimensional. Their personal growth and journey is well worth the read and often inspiring ... I highly recommend this book!"
Longing To Be

"A recommended summer read is Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. The novel is well written, fast paced, and speaks of issues shared by many women around the world. ... The descriptions of the beautiful silk saris, tastes of spicy exotic foods, and the smell of the despair of the slums, jump off the page of this novel."
Off the Shelf

"Secret Daughter runs us through a gamut of emotions and experiences from motherhood to death with India as a vivid and rich backdrop."
Rebel Mom

"[This] stunning debut novel ... is captivating, emotional, and rich in detail. The beautiful prose, intricate storylines, and riveting characters drew me in by the first chapter. I loved this book from beginning to end ... None of the characters in Secret Daughter are one-sided; they are full of good qualities and full of flaws. This is the mark of a well-written novel. There is a great, many-layered complexity in the relationships between parent and child, husband and wife ... Gowda presents a powerful, touching story about self-identity, marriage, the definition and importance of family, and indirectly, India."
Cristina's Library

"Gowda dives deeply into the mother-daughter bond, and also family relationships. The book follows two families, living worlds apart in India and California, and their tie to each other ... Gowda does an excellent job of diving into the very soul of women and their emotions. I love the flavorful descriptions of India, a world of two extremes. ... I HIGHLY recommend this book to all women; I think you'll easily relate to the characters and their experiences."
Spoonful of Perception

"Beautifully and intelligently written, Secret Daughter is deserving of the praise it has received all through the literary globe. Offering insight into the complexities of wanting and raising a youngster by means of international adoption, Gowda writes a novel that provides readers vibrant pictures and connections to characters that will leave a lasting impression."
Hair Gone Baltimore

"Secret Daughter examines notions of family and self-identity while confronting cultural differences between America and India during the 1990s and 2000s ... Gowda writes a very engaging, fast-paced, and addictive read. Her chapters, so short and succinct, left me wanting more. Reading one chapter quickly led to reading more and more of her book. ... Above all, Gowda weaves a tale of compromise, compassion, and love."
Coffee Tale Reviews

"Secret Daughter is one of those books that takes you by surprise. ... What follows is a sometimes heartbreaking sometimes spirit lifting story of motherhood and adoption. It is also a great look at India through several different viewpoints from the desperation of the slums to the beauty of the temples."
Dishwater Dreams

"This is a heartbreaking and yet inspiring novel from this first time novelist. ... ost 350 pages it is a surprisingly quick read and one that is difficult to put down. A highly  recommended read for any mother, anyone affected by adoption, anyone who is interested in India, or just anyone."
Views from the Hobbit Hole

"I am fairly sure that Secret Daughter will end up on my Top 10 list for 2011. I was riveted from the very first page and totally satisfied with the ending. What gets better than that? Ah yes, Gowda's writing is great, too. This isn't just a satisfying plot read. ... I absolutely loved this debut novel and look forward to reading whatever Shilpi Somaya Gowda has coming up next."
Small World Reads

"[A] sweeping novel that spans decades and continents from village life in rural India to bustling Mumbai and scenic northern California. Shilpi Somaya Gowda creates a captivating story about two families unknowingly connected by one child. The novel is intensely engrossing and engages a reader immediately ..."
DesiClub Book Review

"This first book ... is a treat to read. ... I especially appreciated the development of the main characters as they age and grow in understanding.  It was hard to believe that this was a first novel, and one can only hope for more from this writer."
I was told there'd be cake

"First thoughts after finishing this book: 'Wow, I loved that ending!' ... The writing is wonderful and the author certainly made me feel as if I was in India. ... I thought the last couple of chapters were fantastic ... I would recommend this to friends because I think the story itself is an important read. I also think the author writes beautifully...and I loved experiencing India through her characters eyes. I would not hesitate to read another book by Shilpi. [Rating: 8/10]"
Life in the Thumb

"Shilpi Somaya Gowda has brought us an intricately woven tale of families who are connected by birth, chance, and love. The reader sees through these richly developed characters the importance of family and the various forms family can take. Though called Secret Daughter, this spellbinding novel is one about mothers who form the ballasts of family life, and carry the quiet strength that allows love to bloom."
Citizens for Libraries Book Club Choices (ALTAFF)

"[A] well painted portrait of words ... There aren't many books in which I find myself drawn in some way to all the characters. Maybe one or two resonate with me, not all. Shilpi Somaya Gowda's Secret Daughter is one of the few ... I want you to read this book. I just do. I want lots of you to read this book so I can either sit down and chat with you about it or email about it ..."
We Are Grafted In (Adoption Blog)

"It’s well-written, it paints very vivid pictures of India, and you are definitely drawn into the story and the characters. You are honestly worried for Kavita’s future. It’s easy to get caught up in Somer and Krishnan’s romance. You want Somer and her daughter to really form a bond. You can sense the clear and immediate dangers in the slums of Mumbai, and picture the lovely, well-decorated apartment, staffed with servants and scented with wonderful, spicy food. Gowda is wonderfully descriptive."
When Falls the Coliseum

"What a perfect read – as I was in India at this time and could literally visualize and see first-hand some of the details described by the author. As we passed the Dharavi slums (as mentioned in the book), I could see the details of the chapter unfold before my eyes! There were times when I had to force myself to put the book aside, lest I should finish it before my vacation ended! Secret Daughter is a major accomplishment ... Read it to savour the enjoyment that I had!"
GreatReads, SFU Library

"As the book Secret Daughter centers around the stories of these 3 women, I was impressed with the male characters embrace their emotions and rise above the stereotypical stigmas placed of them."

"Loved it. It was a good, complex story that kept me involved emotionally with the families as they all went through their various struggles. I worried for them and cheered when they overcame."
The Professor's Armchair

"If you haven't read it, do so. It's a wonderful, moving book. I cried my way through the last several chapters."
Christy Chase, Durham Region News

"From the character driven chapter structure to the honest writing; from the admirable characters to the difficult life choices – this book is nothing short of phenomenal. The reader can’t help but be drawn to the characters as they battle their own demons and insecurities, as they struggle to relate and survive, and as they fight to hold on to what little they have...[A] beautiful book ... The only thing wrong with this book is the fact that author Shilpi Somaya Gowda has set the bar so high with her debut novel ..."
The Fancy Bookshelf

"Secret Daughter spins a deep tale using a single thread, tying two countries together, spanning over the past two decades ... This book shows so eloquently the complicated relationship between mother and maturing daughter as well as the maternal bonds that do not break despite distance and the unknown ... I found it incredibly difficult to put down each night until I’d finished it."

"[A] beautifully penned novel ... Gowda writes with authority about a husband and wife whose love for each other is tested ... Heartfelt, authentic, and beautifully revealed, Secret Daughter was a novel that kept me reading long past my bedtime ... I thought I knew how the story would end, but I was pleasantly surprised that Gowda avoided cliches and gave me a conclusion which more closely paralleled reality."
Piker Press

"[A] captivating look at life in India ... Secret Daughter will make a great book club read, as there is much to discuss and much to contemplate. It is really a tale of contrasts. East versus West, mother versus mother, even the contrasts that make up India all combine to create a novel that produces similarly disparate reactions within one reader ... a beautifully written lesson on the importance of acceptance and sacrifice."
That's What She Read

"[An] amazing book ... This book just really hit home to me on a few different levels. ... It put into words what i have felt at one time or another. But, to see in words what i have felt - a validation in a way - was very powerful to me."
Manning Family Excellent Adventure

"I was so engrossed in it I really did finish the whole 300+ book in less than two days ... the author was really great at exploring the dynamics of the myriad different relationships among women ... I was impressed with Gowda's ability to navigate experiences ... so authentically."
The Gori Wife

"[A] very enlightening novel ... Gowda does an excellent job at giving each character a unique voice
and she doesn't paint anyone as villain or angel."
My American Melting Pot

"After I finished this book, when I had let the whole story sink in, I felt I had finished reading a work of art ... It is a beautiful book that offers the reader a wealth of information and emotion."

"The story was woven together interestingly ... The story was compelling, and the portrayal of India makes me eager to travel there ... Overall, a great book and a page-turner ... The author gets points for the plot not being super predictable as well."
That's G

"[A] wonderful book about motherhood ... the kind of book that I had a hard time putting down ... I loved Secret Daughter. It was the kind of book that really got me thinking and talking ... a beautifully written novel that explores the relationships between mothers and daughters as well as the important of women in our society. I highly recommend it."
Laura's Reviews

"This book was one of the best I’ve read in a long time ... Gowda was able to accurately describe many of the emotions with adoption – through many different view points ... At times I thought she was reading my mind. For that reason alone, I would love my friends to read this book ... Well, that reason and the fact that it is compelling, well paced, and a great story."
Robins Are Waiting

"This is one for the book clubs! You can't read this book without feeling the need to talk about it. This book takes you on an amazing journey and provokes a reaction. It explores the extremes that exist within India and the stark differences that exist between eastern and western cultures. It examines love and fear in different contexts: as a parent, as a spouse, as a child. And delivers many powerful messages about people's motivations, vulnabilities and sense of duty."
Collins ABC Werribee

"[This] book is one of my favourite reads this year. The story touched me in ways I had not expected. I just finished turning the last page and wiping tears from my eyes. If I were to describe this novel in a nutshell, it would be to say it is a celebration of motherhood, with all its complexities, losses and enduring love. If you enjoy character-driven stories about families with an added exotic element, don't hesitate to delve into this one ... I savoured every page ... This is a beautiful story, well-told, inspiring, and truly moving!"
Library of Clean Reads

"This book was spell binding. I could not stop reading it. ... I can not wait to see what author, Shilpi Somaya Gowda has in store for readers next. Secret Daughter is a book that is meant to be shared and would make the perfect selection at your next book group."
Cheryl's Book Nook

"It’s been a long time since I have read a book and burst into the “ugly cry”. It’s been even longer since I have devoured a book in two days. Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s debut novel, Secret Daughter, instantly captivated me ... It is a story that will resonate with any mother as it is a love story between two women and the daughter they both yearn for."
4 Mothers

"[A] story about family and the various ways that we can create a family. It is a story about cultural identity and the ways in which we relate to those around us. It is a story about love and how it can find ways to conquer all ... The characters were all richly drawn, even though I didn't like them all ... The characters really came to life for me, and their faults made them all the more realistic ... Well-written and interesting, Secret Daughter will certainly leave readers with a lot to think about after the last page is turned and would make an excellent book club choice."
The Book Chick

"[Secret Daughter] not only explores the emotions and conflicts of miscarriage, infertility, and adoption, but it also pulls the reader into the struggles of bi-cultural marriages, relationships between mothers and daughters, and the ongoing experience of finding yourself ... If you are looking for a realistic story about adoption, life in India, the clash of cultures, or even the struggle to find oneself, I definitely recommend this book."
A Few More Pages

"Beautifully written and plotted, Secret Daughter grabbed me from the first page until the end ... I love how she parallels the plots in this book. ... I loved the characters and the chance to really get to know them and understand the motives that each has. ... Secret Daughter was very hard to put down. ... If you enjoy books that straddle two cultures or use exotic settings but focus on the everyday person, then this is a book for you. If you like books about family interaction then this is a book for you. If you enjoy books that explore how people grow and change (even later in life) then this is a book for you. In fact I can't think of anyone who wouldn't enjoy this book."
My Reading Room

"Just finished the greatest book in two days ... it's absolutely beautiful and inspiring ... it's about two separate families, one in India and the other in America and the one thing that connects them and changes their destinies. That's all I'm giving you ... it was really eye-opening and did bring me to tears a number of times. Highly recommend it, Read It!"
Say Anything

"Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda was such a great read for me! It'll be making my favorites list for this year. I'm already quite fond of novels that take me away to another place and culture and Secret Daughter does just that. This is a powerful novel that delves deeply into culture, motherhood, and a person's identity; it is both heartbreaking and uplifting... [It] is a fantastic novel! It is emotional and powerful. The author writes beautifully and her descriptions of India, the food, and the culture are amazing."
Peeking Between the Pages

"This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. A combination of intellect, culture, character development, and continuously moving plot; Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s debut is a story that tackles a universal question with an unique approach. How much does where and who we come from play into who we are? ... this will be worthy of discussion in book clubs around the world. ... Not only does Secret Daughter have a quick moving, heartstring pulling plot, it is full of Indian flavor and culture. ... I will not only be looking for more stories about this wonderfully interesting culture, but will also be eagerly awaiting Gowda’s next creation."

"This story was in one word…riveting!! Gowda has written a relevant and eye opening account of interracial marriage, foreign adoption and culture in India. The plot moves at super pace ... If this book can say anything for fiction it would be how powerful created characters can move people to action."  [4/5 stars]
Tina's Book Reviews

"[F]rom the opening pages, I was mesmerized by the characters and stories. The novel moved through time and effortlessly shifted between narrators. I was simultaneously eager to catch up with each character and reluctant for the chapter to end ... Secret Daughter is about family and cultural identity, but Gowda blended the themes with the story beautifully ... It's a testament to the characters Gowda created that I eagerly turned the pages to see what would happen to each of them ... Secret Daughter was unputdownable for me. I loved the pacing, story and characters. It's a novel that will stay with me for a long time and one I wholeheartedly recommend." [5/5 stars]

"This moving novel tells the story of Kavita in India who gives away her baby daughter in order to save her, and Somer in California who adopts her. It is about two mothers who both love their daughter and what they learn about themselves. This story speaks of motherhood (and fatherhood) and the loss they all share. The writing is excellent, the characters are real. You won’t put it down."
Reviewers Voice

"Shilpi Somaya Gowda weaves an extraordinary tale in Secret Daughter. From page one, the reader is captivated. Shilpi creates characters with incredible depth which allows the reader to develop a "relationship" and, totally immersed within the pages, the characters become real. ... the author introduces the reader to culture, society, and individuals who will remain with you long after you've read the book ... A must read for mothers, daughters, and those who love them." [5/5 stars]
My Bookshelf

"[T]his book really touched me and drew me into its world. The author, Shilpi Somaya Gowda, does a great job of painting a picture of life in India, as well as themes of adoption, grief, and forgiveness. ... Definitely check this book out, you won't regret it!" [4/5 stars]

"This is truly a moving story ... It is a richly descriptive novel and the characters are so real. They're flawed but realistically and even understandably so ... This is a thought-provoking novel that I think book clubs might enjoy too. I loved it and look forward to reading more by this debut author."

"Gowda masterfully crafts parallel stories of these two women, and their longings for family amidst adversity ... The women are strong and well-described and I felt as though I knew the two main characters. The book is ... a celebration of triumph for families as it touches the reader with emotions. As a debut novel, Gowda has set expectations high for whatever she crafts next as Secret Daughter is an excellent story for all readers ... "

"Secret Daughter is an epic voyage across time and cultural lines, trying to define what it means to be a family — linked either by familiarity, background, blood ... or, simply, by love. ... Full of amazing sensory detail and colorful descriptions of life on two ends of the globe, Gowda’s book paints a realistic, memorable picture of life for two families — and the daughter who unites them."

"[A] powerful story about the ties, biological and otherwise, which bind a family together. Although the novel covers themes such as poverty and the subjugation of women which feature often in novels set in India, these topics are treated with a depth and skill which allow this book to stand out among its peers ... I know this novel and the characters it introduced me to will stay with me for some time ... "
Books in the City

"Secret Daughter is a magnificent read! I give this novel 5 out of 5 stars for craft and content. Not only is the subject matter touching ... but Gowda’s attention to detail brings so much life to the text. You’ll be spell-bound before long and, like me, will want to re-read Secret Daughter immediately just to re-enter its colorful world." [5/5 stars]
Luxury Reading

"Gowda writes with strength, heart and wisdom, making Secret Daughter a stunning debut novel ... It's a heart-wrenching story, beautifully told, about longing, fulfillment and everything in between. ... Secret Daughter moved me, not because the story's sentimental - because it's strong, stirring and satisfying."

"I loved this book ... I loved the writing and was pulled in from the very first sentence. The writing is just the style I like: not too flowery or descriptive, but it gives the reader enough to have a wonderful picture of the place, the characters, the smells, and the sounds ... I sympathized with the characters, whether they were young or old, male or female; they are all believable and likable. ... I struggled along with them when they were sad (and, yes, shed many a tear) and I rejoiced with them in their successes."
Helen's Book Blog

"I cannot put into words how much I loved Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s Secret Daughter. ... [M]y words will not to justice to this amazing piece of literature.  Gowda writes with such grace and wisdom, it is impossible to believe that this is her debut novel.  Her prose is lyrical and beautiful, yet clear and precise...[R]ead this book. It’s a beautiful portrait of family, culture, and the importance of understanding your heritage, while also being a testament to the love of all our mothers.  It doesn’t matter what culture or background you are—Gowda’s incredible writing and compelling story will pull you in and not let you go until the last pages of the novel are turned." [5/5 stars, one of the top books of 2010]
Swapna Krishna, S. Krishna's Books 

"Beautifully and intelligently written, Secret Daughter is deserving of the praise it has received throughout the literary world. ... Gowda writes a novel that gives readers vibrant images and connections to characters that will leave a lasting impression. ... an impactful and believable chronicle of how love can still happen from loss."
— Angela Kruger, Suite 101

"I loved this book. Period. I read it in two days and found it very hard to put it down. ... This book is not only beautifully written but deals with many issues - sex, class, education, family and different cultures - all wrapped up in a very inviting and compelling story. ... This book is a gem and I highly recommend it." [4.5/5 stars]
— Laurie, The Baking Bookworm

"[D]efinitely one of the best adult fiction books I've read this year! Incredibly poignant and filled with both tragedy and hope ... Gowda brilliantly captures the incredible contrasts that mark the society and culture of India ... Gowda weaves a story of hope and possibility. I highly recommend this book, especially as a book club offering."

"[A] riveting read ... a story about women (young and old), transformations, finding self, sacrifice, love, family. Gowda's writing draws you into the lives of two families ... I couldn't put this book down, canceled dates, skipped meals and curled up on the couch with many cups of tea ... A definite MUST READ."
— Xania Khan, VerveGirl

"A truly, riveting, amazing read ... this book transports readers into a world of heartbreak, shock and life’s unknowns. ... this is a book that lingers in your mind