What if raising your child was a luxury you couldn't afford?

Somer's life is everything she imagined it would be — she's newly married and has started her career as a physician in San Francisco — until she makes the devastating discovery she never will be able to have children.

The same year in India, a poor mother makes the heartbreaking choice to save her newborn daughter's life by giving her away. It is a decision that will haunt Kavita for the rest of her life, and cause a ripple effect that travels across the world and back again.

Asha, adopted out of a Mumbai orphanage, is the child that binds the destinies of these two women. We follow both families, invisibly connected until Asha's journey of self-discovery leads her back to India.

Compulsively readable and deeply touching, SECRET DAUGHTER is a story of the unforeseen ways in which our choices and families affect our lives, and the indelible power of love in all its many forms.


"Gowda's flair for detail is evident in the way she describes the clothes, food, the streets and their smells of this land teeming with people and poverty. This story about motherhood, loss, family and forgiveness is authentic in every way. ... The prose is so achingly touching, it draws the reader in with every description and emotion of the characters." — Associated Press

"A nuanced coming-of-age story that is faithful to the economic and emotional realities of two very different cultures. ... As the author moves among the perspectives of her various characters, she gives full weight to the humanity of each and views the problems of poverty and affluence with equal empathy. ... Gowda doesn't neaten up the messy complications of family life as she warmly affirms the power of love to help people grow and change." — Washington Post

"Captivating and ultimately very wise.  ... especially vivid and heart-rending. This novel travels far in the world, and deep into the human heart." — Minneapolis Star-Tribune  

Gowda has adroitly tackled motherhood and India in her enchanting debut novel Secret Daughter. ... It’s heart-wrenching at times, but all in all, an engrossing debut novel and a perfect Mother’s Day gift.” — San Diego Tribune

Secret Daughter is an engaging read, with its quick shifts between characters and rapid movement through 20 years of familial narrative." Boston Globe 

"Gowda weaves her tale deftly... The sounds, scents and sights of India are vividly drawn, pulling the reader deep into a culture ... 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." Dallas Morning News 

"The novel is often emotionally poignant, especially when Gowda taps into the losses and fears that both mothers face, or as Asha slowly begins to appreciate what a family in all its intricacies can mean." Globe & Mail  

"Secret Daughter is eminently readable. In fact, it is hard to put down, as its two parallel storylines inevitably collide." Vancouver Sun & Ottawa Citizen  

"Quite engrossing ... Gowda is an adept tour guide, smoothly transporting readers from one continent and culture to another with a sense of authority." Edmonton Journal  

"A book to read and savour and then pass on to everyone you know." — Heather Reisman, Chapters Indigo 


"Gowda has masterfully portrayed two families … linked by a powerful, painful tie that complicates their lives …. A thought-provoking examination of the challenges of being a woman in America and in India—and in the psychological spaces in between." — Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of MISTRESS OF SPICES

"A deeply moving and timeless story of an adopted daughter's long distance search for cultural identity and acceptance ..." — Kathleen Kent, author of national bestseller THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER

"A beautifully composed compelling story of love, loss, discovery and the true meaning of family." — Anjali Banerjee, author of INVISIBLE LIVES


  • Longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin International Literary Award

  • Shortlisted for the South African Boeke Literary Prize

  • Amnesty International Book Club Selection (2015)

  • IndieNEXT Great Read, April 2010 (American Booksellers' Association)

  • Target Club Pick (April 2011)

  • ChaptersIndigo -Heather's Pick

  • Amazon Customer Favorite & Editor's Choice of 2010

  • Vancouver Sun (Top 10 Books of 2010)

  • #1 Bestselling Book of 2010 in Canada

  • Bestseller Lists: USA (New York Times, USA Today, IndieBound), Canada, Norway, Germany, Israel, Poland, Malaysia