Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Review: The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal

Isha Tilak is happily married with a small daughter and pregnant with her second child. She lives with her husband, Nikhil, and his parents in Palgaum, a small town in southwestern India. Her life begins to change, though she doesn't know it, with a visit to her doctor for an ultrasound. As she and her husband watch the test, the doctor tells them that the baby Isha is carrying is a girl. Then he says "We can fix that."

Isha and Nikhil are stunned. The doctor is suggesting terminating the pregnancy because the child is not a boy! They are both aware that in the past boys had been much preferred to girls in Indian culture but are shocked that a modern doctor would be so nonchalantly suggesting an abortion on the basis of the baby's sex, which is against the law in modern India. They refuse, of course, but are deeply disturbed.

A short time later, tragedy strikes the Tilak family. Nikhil is found dead at the family business. It looks as if he was robbed and stabbed while he was in the process of closing for the evening. He was the only son in his family and his parents' grief is overwhelming. They start to take their anger out on Isha and her small daughter. They say the baby girl she is carrying is a curse on the family and was the cause of her father's death. They make it obvious that they think she should have had the abortion. Isha finds that she cannot continue to live with them and subject her child to their animosity. Despite the fact that she has nowhere to go, no status as a widow and no way to earn any money, she takes her daughter and leaves.

Thus begins Isha's journey to finding herself, finding out what really happened to her husband, and creating a future for herself and her two beautiful daughters. She surprises herself with her own strength and ability to adapt and grow despite the challenges that she encounters.

I really liked this book. The characters felt real, were interesting and well written and the story was engaging. Though the idea of using abortion as a means of sex selection is disturbing, I think the author right to bring it to light in this way. I look forward to reading future books by Shobhan Bantwal.

Order The Forbidden Daughter from Amazon

3 comments:

Kathleen said...

I have a galley of this that I need to read asap! Glad you enjoyed it.

tashiana said...

god wat a scary situation to be in! the parents are totally nuts i'm glad she doesn't abort her daughter

Becca said...

Disturbing subjects in this one. But it seems like the story is more about her strength. You can see glimmers of hope for her and her children. Still, I think I generally like my reading to be a little lighter than this one.

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Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.