Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

''Secret Daughter'' by Shilpi Somaya Gowda is a fiction novel about an Indian mother who gives up her daughter for adoption and the California mother who adopts the child. This asset provides discussion questions about this novel.

Secret Daughter

Shilpi Somaya Gowda's Secret Daughter is a novel about the complexity of overseas adoption. Asha's biological mother, Kavita, is forced to give her beloved daughter up for adoption because the extreme poverty and gender gap make having a female child impossible in her small village in India. Asha is adopted by a wealthy American family, but culture clashes make her relationship with her adoptive mother, Somer, untenable. By returning to India as a young adult, Asha is able to better understand her identity and both families. The following questions support student comprehension of this novel.

Kavita and Jasu

  • Describe the setting at the beginning of the novel. How would the story be different if it took place in another time or place?
  • Compare the way that male children are viewed to the way female children are viewed in Kavita's village. Why is it necessary to consider economics when family planning?
  • Why does Kavita decide to give Asha up? What would have happened if she had not given her up? What resources do you think would most help this community? Why?
  • How do Kavita and Jasu respond to the birth of Vijay? What are some mixed feelings Kavita experiences? What advice would you offer Kavita about dealing with her feelings for Asha?
  • Describe Vijay's struggle to change his economic position. How does it compare to what Asha would have experienced if she had stayed in India? Do you think Kavita and Jasu fairly assessed the economic advantage of having a son? Explain your answer.

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