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A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  918 ratings  ·  209 reviews
“There’s not a false note in this powerful, beautifully crafted exploration of the trade-offs in women’s lives.” —People

From National Book Award finalist and the New York Times bestselling author of The Year We Left Home comes a moving family saga about three generations of women who struggle to find freedom and happiness in their small Midwestern college town.

A Cloud in
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.34  · 
Rating details
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Angela M
Jul 18, 2018 rated it liked it

3.5 stars

Let’s face it. There’s probably a little dysfunction in all of our families, and I’ll admit to my own, but I have to say up front, the dysfunction here with a cast of miserably, unhappy characters, unhappy with each other and with themselves, was more than I could relate to. The novel focuses on three generations of women. Evelyn is dying and we learn that she’s led an unsatisfying life, resentful that she gave up her dreams and ambitions when she marries and has children who she never
Diane S ☔
Oct 03, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5 I had a very negative reaction to this story. Don't get me wrong, the writing is extremely well done, but the book was just so, well for me, a Debbie downer. Three generations of women, unhappy families to the extreme. Nary a glimpse of joy. Never connected with the chsrscters, so I didn't feel sorry for the as did my wonderful reading partners, Esil and Angela. To me, they were like cardboard characters, so obvious and stereotypical. Unhappy, martyr like women, drugs alcohol, infidelity, su ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it liked it
"What if your life sneaked up behind you, tapped you on the shoulder, and said, Guess what, I'm already here."

A Cloud in the shape of a girl follows the story of three women, Evelyn, Laura, and Grace. Three generations of women from one family and their lives, their loves, their choices and the men in their lives. Each woman has something she is dealing with ranging from marital issues, infidelity, heartbreak, addiction, dysfunction with the family, secrets, longing and coming to terms with deat
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
4 insightful stars to A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I’ve read wonderful things about Jean Thompson’s The Year We Left Home, so I was eager to read A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl! What an ethereal and beautiful title, by the way!

A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl is the story of three generations of women in the Wise family. What an emotional story Grace, Evelyn, and Laura have to tell.

At the root of each woman’s life is something we can all probably relate to- feelings of not measuri
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
”There's no mercy in a live wire
No rest at all in freedom
Of the choices we are given it's no choice at all
The proof is in the fire
You touch before it moves away
But you must always know how long to stay and when to go

“And there ain't no talkin' to this man
He's been tryin' to tell me so
It took awhile to understand the beauty of just letting go
Cause it would take an acrobat, I already tried all that
I'm gonna let him fly”

-- Let Him Fly, Patty Griffin, Songwriters: Patty Griffin
Bam cooks the books ;-)
*3.5 stars rounded up.

This is the story of three generations of the women of one family but broadens towards the end to deeply examine the family dysfunction of the last generation--father, mother, son and daughter. The father has a drinking problem and mentally abuses his children, most especially his son who cannot live up to his father's expectations and turns to drugs. The daughter is belittled by her father but more often feels ignored for the most part. The mother is the peacekeeper, tryin
♥ Sandi ❣
3 stars Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the chance to read this novel. Published on October 9, 2018.

This was a book that I probably would have set down, if it were not that I was reading it with a group. But because I was, I forged on, and am now fairly happy that I did.

The first half of this book was frustrating. I felt the characters were shallow and basically portrayed people who I try hard not to associate with. The story tells of three generations of women. First Evelyn,
Nov 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3+ stars

A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl is the third novel I read in a short time span dealing with the generational divide between millennials and baby boomers. The two others were Unsheltered and Boomer1. Each one of them had a heavy bleak undertone. This was not exception. The writing was good, but it was hard to like these self-pitying self-destructive characters. In the face of a real crisis, they seem to make all the wrong decisions.

This was monthly read with Angela and Diane. I’m long ove
Feb 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Sad, raw and depressing. Three generations of women who have been suffocated/stifled from their full potential/achievements, true loves, and instead are living a life of yearning and servitude and playing as peacemakers. The men in these three generations also have their own issues of being controlling and manipulative and with pressures of maintaining a high successful profile; the last generation not being able to meet any of these expectations. He’s an out of control addict, alcoholic, an off ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For those who aren’t familiar with Jean Thompson, a word of warning—her books do not have page-turning action or swiftly moving plots (at least the ones I’ve read). Instead, like this one, her novels are character-based, and her style is often meditative. When something dramatic happens, it isn’t like a bomb going off, but rather like the bottom fell out. She does not pander to boilerplate blockbusters, or pad her story with popular platitudes. Thompson’s narrative is subtle, intelligent, with t ...more
ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook
If you want to know who really loves you, look around and see who’s still standing next to you.
This is a story about relationships and finding one’s true self. The pace of the novel is measured and slowly builds, allowing the reader to be gently taken along for the ride. No major plot twists or adventure, this is a slice-of-life narrative that gives a peek into someone else's life. The characters are intriguing, quirky and classic Thompson.

She would never manage to break free from her fam
Jessica Woodbury
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
The novel of male discontent and melancholy has been at the center of American literature for a long time, but more and more I see the rise of its long overdue female counterpart. The novel of male discontent (almost always a straight cis white male, well-off, and successful) has always been a mystery to me. Its central question seems to be, "Why am I so unhappy?" and the answer is usually nothing more than that this is inherent to life, that it is unescapable. The two men in this book could eas ...more
If you are looking for an incredibly tragic, moving family saga then look no further, A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl by Jean Thompson has you covered!

I went into A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl knowing it was going to be a family saga about three generations, but I don't think I realized just how sad it was going to be. There is a lot of hurt and pain in this book, so I definitely think you need to be in the right mood to read it. That being said, it was beautifully written, and I can tell that T
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it

In her latest novel, Jean Thompson focuses on what she does best — creating authentic and complex characters that quietly make choices, some good and some bad, and evolve through those decisions. In exploring three generations of women, the question that arises is this: is it possible to break free from one’s family and cast off its legacy of unhappy women?

For Grace, who literally renames herself from her given name of Patti (Grace is her middle name), living on one’s own terms is worth a try. H
Literary Soirée
Jean Thompson’s compelling new novel — about three generations of Midwestern women in the Wise family — asks this core question:

“By serving her family, is a woman destined to repeat the mistakes of previous generations, or can she transcend the expectations of a place, and a time? Can she truly be free?”

Her gracious response is played out in the lives of Evelyn, Laura, and Grace, from WWII to the present, as they traverse paths of joy, loss, triumph, and despair. Another winning narrative from
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl delves deeply into the lives of three generations of the Wise family. Evelyn is the matriarch of the family and although her life is close to an end, we do get a deeper understanding of her life and that of her daughter Laura and granddaughter Grace. This is not a happy tale and it does discuss issues that are relevant in many families such as marriage issues, cheating, substance abuse, and the life choices one makes.

I do admit that I had a hard time really getting
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
I have some crazy mixed feelings about this book. I went in knowing nothing except that I loved this author's previous novel The Year We Left Home and for the first 2/3 of the novel I felt the same way. I love the midwestern roots, the ambling nature of the storytelling, the push-pull of mother/daughter dynamics. I recognized these women, felt I understood their strengths and weaknesses.

Then the bottom dropped out for me. It's not that I can't handle a tragic turn or some abrupt plot twists (in
Judy D Collins
Buy the Audiobook! Cassandra Campbell was amazing, as always. More to come.
May 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC.

A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl is a story about three generations of women in the Wise family. I believe the point of this novel is to try to answer whether each generation of women is doomed to be exactly like their mother or if they can change their course. It seems this was meant to be poignant and moving and affect us all in some deep way but honestly, it was terrible and dull. This was a story about a woman trapped in a loveless marriage
Jean Thompson has definitely entered my very short "will read whatever this author writes" list. She has a way of so beautifully (and amusingly) depicting messy people. If you need your characters to be likeable, I wouldn't recommend this. But I found it brilliant.
Sarah at Sarah's Bookshelves
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for an advance copy of this book.

Though not perfect, A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl is an astute observation of different generations of women’s roles in marriage and motherhood and reminded me of a bleaker Anna Quindlen.

What I Liked
- I’ve been gravitating towards books about marriage, motherhood, and women’s roles lately (as evidenced by my recent post: The “Women Who Get Women” Authors Club) and that’s the crux of what this book is about.
- Thompson beautif
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I suppose anyone who is a daughter, or a mother, or has lost a mother, will be able to find something to relate to in this book. I know I did. It is true that women have always been the glue that holds a family together, sometimes joyfully, other times not so much. This is the story of 3 generations of unhappy, dissatisfied, women who did the best they could with the hand they were dealt, and lived as best they could with the choices they made. It was not exactly a tear jerker although it was de ...more
Mary Lins
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I can’t imagine a woman who WON’T find something with which to identify in the three main characters of Jean Thompson’s novel, “A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl”. There were parts of each of their stories that spoke to me directly, parts that mystified me completely, and all of it was compelling and beautifully rendered. I feel confident recommending this to all of my female reading friends, AND to any man who would like some insight into women’s lives, past and present.

Evelyn, Laura, and Grace –
Jill Meyer
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Can the actions of one generation affect the lives of succeeding ones? Should the secrets of parents and grandparents - seemingly so important to them - be exposed by the third generation? And what damage - or help - occurs by exposing them? Author Jean Thompson has written a brilliant book, "A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl", about three generations of a family in a mid-western college town and the actions and secrets that bind them together.

Thompson's story centers on the three generations of wo
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Women hold a family together. They plan the social activities and family gatherings, act as a buffer between butting heads, ease the high emotions of family conflict, and provide the meals for the family table that brings generations together.

It is not an easy job, or an easy life. Especially in families afflicted with personality disorders, addictions, mental illness, anger issues, conflict--or even with the usual garden variety issues common to all families.

A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl by Je
I enjoy broad sweeping family sagas that look at relationship patterns that repeat over generations. I believe that good fiction provides readers with windows into relationships of their own, or at least provides possible explanations for relationships that defy easy understanding. A CLOUD IN THE SHAPE OF A GIRL offers many vantage points and explanations for mothers and daughters who just miss one another in their attempts to connect. Author Jean Thompson has some deeply held views about parent ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life
2018; Simon & Schuster Canada
(Review Not on Blog)

This is my first novel by Jean Thompson and it will not be my last. I already have a few titles in mind. "A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl is a poignant novel about three generations of the Wise family—Evelyn, Laura, and Grace—as they hunt for contentment amid chaos of their own making." (Amazon) What I loved about this novel, is that we see how each woman tries to live her life on her own terms within the era setting they were living
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From the publisher ---

From National Book Award finalist and the New York Times' bestselling author of The Year We Left Home comes a moving family saga about three generations of women who struggle to find freedom and happiness in their small Midwestern college town.
A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl is a poignant novel about three generations of the Wise family—Evelyn,
Rachael Peretic
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Jean Thompson’s latest novel, “Girl in the Shape of a Cloud”, is a multi-generational account of three women: Evelyn, Laura and Grace. In a small university town, the past seems inescapable. It greets you at birth and lingers long after you’ve gone. This is the reality Grace lives in, much like her mother Laura before her and her grandmother Evelyn before that; a world of prescribed expectations. Thompson links the women by more than blood in telling their stories and, for once, allowing them to ...more
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: generational
The writing is so strong I was immediately on board. Jean Thompson captures the essence of everyday moments. For instance, here is a reality for many, succinctly expressed:

‘If you lived in a small-to-medium city, like this one, for some number of years, there were circles of people you knew, from different layers of your life, different strata, like an archaeological dig. Fallen-away friends from middle school, old rivals, old sweethearts. Your brother’s old friends, old rivals, sweethearts. Peo
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Angela, Diane and Esil discuss 38 15 Feb 17, 2019 12:36PM  

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Jean Thompson is a New York Times bestselling author and her new novel, The Humanity Project will be published by Blue Rider Press on April 23, 2013.

Thompson is also the author of the novel The Year We Left Home, the acclaimed short fiction collections Do Not Deny Me, and Throw Like a Girl as well as the novel City Boy; the short story collection Who Do You Love, and she is a 1999 National Boo

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“Her parents didn't get it. Life was different now. The future, her future and that of everyone else her age, had blown up in slow motion. She lived the way she did because greed had sucked the juice out of the world and it was no longer possible to get one of those humble but promising jobs that led, with hard work and perseverance, to something that might be considered a career. Instead you competed with ambitious, underpaid people on the Indian subcontinent for the sucky customer service jobs, or you might choose to go the tech route and work as a coding slave, or sign noncompete and binding arbitration agreements with some major corporation that still required human bodies to do their dirty work for them.” 1 likes
“Because what were older women meant to do with themselves, besides prop up everybody else's lives and drink too much wine at book club meetings? No one, Laura was convinced, was as invisible and as easily dismissed as the tribe of women like herself, with short gray hair and glasses.” 0 likes
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