Title: The Forgotten Daughter
Author: Renita D’Silva
Release Date: February 28, 2014
Genre: Cultural Fiction (South Asian)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Nisha’s very British Indian parents have always held her at arm’s length, never giving her the comfort and affection she’s always craved. She’s never doubted their love for her, though, until they are both killed in an accident, and Nisha finds a letter that shakes her very foundations, with three words that will change everything: You were adopted. As Nisha tries to make sense of her life with this new information, Devi, a young woman living in India struggles against society’s expectations, and those of her mother, Shilpa.
In The Forgotten Daughter, Renita D’Silva deftly weaves together three different narratives, the stories of Nisha, Devi, and Shilpa, giving distinct voices to these three strong and brave women. Those looking for thoughtful stories will find plenty of emotion and vivid description in this thoughtful novel.
In the past year or two, there have been new independent presses coming forward, small publishers that are intent on bringing to the market works from female authors. Some are ebook only; Bookouture, which publishes Renita D’Silva, publishes in print as well. I’ve had my eye on a few of these, especially because this seems to be where South Asian fiction is thriving. However, it can always be a bit of a risk reading a novel from a new, small publisher: editing standards can sometimes be lax or nonexistent. Luckily, I made a great choice with Bookouture: Renita D’Silva’s novel is well-written, well-edited, and has a great story at its heart.
D’Silva tells the story of Nisha, a lost young woman, in The Forgotten Daughter. Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, and the letter from her parents only serves to confuse her more. For Nisha, this book is an exploration of identity, trying to figure out who she is and what that means. Readers will sympathize with Nisha’s confusion as her world is shaken.
But it’s not just Nisha’s story in The Forgotten Daughter; d’Silva does a great job writing each of these women, making their voices distinct. Devi is a young woman attending college in India. She struggles against society’s conservative values and her own mother’s expectations, especially as she is also trying to find herself. Devi rails against the double standard present in Indian society, that men can do whatever they want but women must be “pure.” She’s feisty and smart, though readers might question some of her choices. And then there’s Shilpa, Devi’s mother, whose story is told through diary entries. Her diary entries can be a bit unbelievable, as the high quality of the prose isn’t consistent with a woman living in a village with little education, but D’Silva makes the character, with her superstitious values, believable.
Readers who enjoy cultural stories, especially those about women, will absolutely enjoy The Forgotten Daughter. Each of these women is well-written and it’s easy to be drawn in by the emotional storyline. It’s definitely worth taking a chance on an unknown publisher; you just might be rewarded with a book as sweet as The Forgotten Daughter. I know I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on what Renita D’Silva does next.