Thursday, April 9, 2020

Julie's Review: The Shape of Family

Author: Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Series: None
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 352
Obtained: TLC Book Tours
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.75/5
Bottom Line: Intimate look at a family's pain after a tragedy

Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab

Summary: The Olander family embodies the modern American Dream in a globalized world. Jaya, the cultured daughter of an Indian diplomat and Keith, an ambitious banker from middle-class Philadelphia, meet in a London pub in 1988 and make a life together in suburban California. Their strong marriage is built on shared beliefs and love for their two children: headstrong teenager Karina and young son Prem, the light of their home. But love and prosperity cannot protect them from sudden, unspeakable tragedy, and the family’s foundation cracks as each member struggles to seek a way forward. Jaya finds solace in spirituality. Keith wagers on his high-powered career. Karina focuses relentlessly on her future and independence. And Prem watches helplessly as his once close-knit family drifts apart. When Karina heads off to college for a fresh start, her search for identity and belonging leads her down a dark path, forcing her and her family to reckon with the past, the secrets they’ve held and the weight of their choices. The Shape of Family is an intimate portrayal of four individuals as they grapple with what it means to be a family and how to move from a painful past into a hopeful future. It is a profoundly moving exploration of the ways we all seek belonging—in our families, our communities and ultimately, within ourselves.

Review: I really didn't know what to expect when I started reading The Shape of Family but I knew from the summary that is was up my alley. The Olander family seem to have the idealistic life, Jaya is a doting mother, Keith is an attentive dad, Kiki and Prem are brother and sister who actually do enjoy spending time together. Sure their marriage isn't perfect and of course they are typical siblings who do fight but they do love each other. All of that changes on one afternoon when their family befalls a tragedy that changes all of them in an instant.

None of them knows how to come out of the dark and none of them know how to comfort each other. So each of them go on their own paths, drifting further and further apart until the fissures are so deep they can't be fixed.

I don't want to get into each of their stories because in a way that would ruin the novel itself. What I do want to talk about is the gifted way Ms. Gowda tells this family's story. The way she writes makes you feel completely invested in their lives. You feel their pain and joy like they were close family members or friends.

I found myself wanting to shake each of them at different points within the novel and also wanting to hug them for comfort. If you are looking for a novel about family and the things that tie us together, I can't recommend this one more. Pick it up and you won't regret it.


trish said...

This is exactly the kind of writing I love! I've been meaning to read Gowda for a long time, and I think now is the perfect time to distract myself with a different family. :)

Julie said...

You'll love it, Trish. We can all use a distraction that doesn't look like our own family right about now. :)