Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters by Anita Kushwaha (Review by Shelley Jomaa)

2 min read

Rating: 4/5 stars

Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters by Anita Kushwaha is an intergenerational novel exploring the themes of family, love, loss, grief, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It begins on Asha’s 18th birthday, when she discovers she is adopted and receives a letter from her birth mother, who passed away shortly after Asha’s birth. Asha is shocked at the news, and is curious about the birth father that did not want her. She is angry with her adoptive parents for withholding the truth, and their relationship deteriorates rapidly. Asha’s unwillingness to forgive her adoptive parents for keeping secrets, along with Asha’s adoptive mom’s jealousy and insecurity, destroy the trust within the once close family unit. Asha withdraws from her adoptive family, and attempts to cope through unhealthy relationships, resulting in more secrets with tragic consequences.

Kushwawa also interweaves the storyline of Mala, a strong, successful woman with a fulfilling career in university academia in Ottawa, Canada. Mala is mourning the recent loss of her beloved father, and is in love with her married colleague. Mala’s mother, genuinely wanting nothing more than to protect her daughter, encourages her to consider an arranged marriage. Mala eventually agrees to her cultural tradition and marries a man her mom deems suitable. This appeases her grieving mother, and also allows Mala to hide her secret of an unplanned pregnancy. When Mala’s mother passes away unexpectedly, the loneliness of her marriage and the stress of looking after a newborn become too much for her to bear.

Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters is an engaging and compelling read, with the plot moving along at a good pace. We meet a small number of well-developed characters and intimately learn their innermost secrets. The author takes us on an emotional journey through mother-daughter relationships, as well as the consequences of secrets held for multiple generations. The book is a series of devastating tragedies that will pull at your heartstrings, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading a heartbreaking story filled with intense family drama.

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I am writing to share an update on behalf of all of us at The Girly Book Club as we manage COVID-19. As we all know, the events of the past days and weeks have been unprecedented and our team continues to monitor and navigate this rapidly changing situation with the rest of the world.

At the GBC, we care deeply about doing what we can to keep our people and communities well – we are grounded in this intention, which makes difficult choices a little easier to make.

As a result, we have cancelled ALL of our global in-person monthly meetings for March. As a result, we will be holding a GLOBAL GBC Book Club, which we hope will appeal to our members far and wide (more info below.)

We’ll be honoring all tickets sold for March meetings and transferring them to April’s meetings or you can request a refund if you’d prefer.

Stay well. 
Erin Woodward

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