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The Shape of Family

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  605 ratings  ·  76 reviews
From the international bestselling author of Secret Daughter and The Golden Son comes a poignant, unforgettable novel about a family's growing apart and coming back together in the wake of tragedy.

The Olanders embody the American dream in a globalized world. Jaya, the cultured daughter of an Indian diplomat and Keith, an ambitious banker from middle-class Philadelphia,
Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 17th 2020 by William Morrow (first published October 15th 2019)
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  • The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
    The Shape of Family
    Release date: Mar 17, 2020
    Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. No PO boxes will be accepted.

    From the international bestselling author of Secret Daughter and The Golden Son

    Format: Print book

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    Availability: 100 copies available, 3067 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Jan 15 - Jan 30, 2020

    Countries available: U.S.

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    Average rating 3.80  · 
    Rating details
     ·  605 ratings  ·  76 reviews

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    Elyse  Walters
    Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it
    I was in full tears....11% into this novel.
    What is it about novels within the first 10% or 11% that punches me so hard in
    the gut...that I have to stop reading and compose myself?
    Old memories came flooding back.
    A child dies early in this book.
    I had a cousin who died the same way - at the same age- many years ago, as the child did in this novel.
    A very tragic death.

    Moving on....
    More painful scenes continued ...
    followed by ongoing despondent prose.
    Other than the emotional devastation at the
    Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing

    WOW! This book was fantastic for me to read. I can say that I didn't like the book in the very beginning. Usually I can tell right away within the first few pages if I am going to love a book and I am going to change my perspective from now on. This book is easily one of my favorite books this year. The story was well crafted about a family who suffers one of the worst kind of tragedies and how guilt and grief splinters the family as it blows the family
    Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
    In her latest book, Shilpi Somaya Gowda beautifully and sensitively details how a tragedy and its aftermath tears a family apart as each member struggles to deal with the devastating loss that has crippled their family.

    With her wonderfully descriptive prose, Gowda brings readers into the Olander family with much of the book detailing how each family member handles their grief in vastly different ways. This is a quieter, slowly paced read that may not have twists and turns but will give readers
    Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Another beautiful book that warmed my heart. AND I finally learned why my farming friends leave their eggs on the counter. I have wanted to know this for 40 years probably!!
    Nancy Brooks Bourne
    Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: 2019
    I struggled between 4 and 5 stars on this one. As much as I loved this book I was really annoyed by the lack of support and blatant ignorance the parents had for Karina. I know this makes the basis for the story but how can you be so oblivious to your hurting daughter....if the adult in a situation is hurting then you know the child in the same situation is hurting just as much or more.
    This book drew me into its folds right from the first page. I was utterly lost in the fortunes and misfortunes of the Olanders and I finished reading it in one day. I loved the sensitive and very keenly observed patterns of grief that each person goes through, and I think this portrayal is one of the best I have read. The story is cleverly structured to mirror the lives of the family. It begins with chapters that encompass the entire family, and then diverges into the individual stories of each ...more
    I was so excited when I heard Gowda had written a new book because I enjoyed her first two titles so much. She didn’t disappoint!

    Like author Jhumpa Lahiri, Shilpi Somaya Gowda is able to capture the emotional complexities of South Asian immigrants who are torn between two cultures and who struggle to come to terms with what their new home is offering against the expectations of their families. In the case of “The Shape of Family”, the family must also contend with a tragedy that cracks their
    Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I am a huge fan of Shilpi's novels. When I picked this up I was expecting a similar story to her past two books but I was pleasantly surprised at this plot. It is very different from her other books but in the most beautiful way possible.

    This story revolves around a family and their lives after a devastating tragedy. It follows the stories of individual transformations and how we as humans go separate ways when handling with the unexpected twists and turns of life. It is creative and
    Smitha Murthy
    A quiet page-turner on grief. That's about the only way I can describe this. Melding different narratives and voices that are all held together by the fragile thread of life and the stronger pull of death, 'The Shape of Family' was fascinating and disturbing at times for me, bringing back memories of how my own family handled our grief. These last few years, I have wondered what family means - is it the family we are born into or the ones we make? What really makes a family? I don't know the ...more
    Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Excellent story. A family divided by a tragedy and brought back together by a second near tragedy.

    Unwittingly I was pulled into reading the second book about a commune in less than a month. This one was The Sanctuary and more modern day. Same principle.

    Well developed characters. I could empathize with each one of them throughout the book.

    A complete departure from this author's previous books.
    Dawn CM
    Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Oh my, a gorgeous book. It was difficult sometimes to read about Karina’s endless bad choices. I really enjoyed Jaya’s and Keith’s struggles and realizations and the people they became in the end. The threads of gardening and food and prayer that were woven throughout were beautiful. Such a great read.
    Nic Nacks Corner
    The Shape of Family

    By Shilpi Somaya Gowda


    This is a beautiful story of a family dealing with loss and grief all in their own individual ways We follow Karina, Jaya, Keith, and Prem. Prem is the youngest of the family and the one we lose early on that set into motion our story. Prem is used as an observer of his family. Karina is our main player in this story, and we follow her life and as it is. We get to touch base with both Jaya and Keith and how they each deal with grief. Shilpi
    Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Loved this family drama book. Lots of layers to the story, which made you hafta keep going. Nicely done!

    Thanks to author,publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
    Linda Cousens
    Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    This book drew me in from the very first page. What a beautiful, poignant story of tragedy, love lost and found, and the ties that bind a family. Karina's life as a teenager and young adult is portrayed with the use of many nuances and is both compelling and powerful. I highly recommend this very emotional novel.
    Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    This was one of those books that got better and better as I continued reading it. It is amazing how life events, people, or ideas can alter the course of our lives affecting the decisions we make, the people we choose to associate with , and the mindsets we adapt. Karina Olander goes through severe ups and down after the death of her brother. All of her choices begin to accumulate and she is forced deal with with the weight of her decisions and their consequences without much guidance and ...more
    Taylor Grace
    Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I got this book as a recommendation...again. It's a book about a family and what happens to them when tragedy strikes. I didn't know the author or the book or anything about the story. I just picked it up and read the first chapter and was hooked.

    More than anyone else in the family, I related to Karina, the daughter who struggles to find find herself and discover who she is. I loved how determined she was and how hard she worked at her studies. Having always been a type-A personality, that part
    Chrissy Erwin
    Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: fiction, adult
    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
    Charlotte Johnston
    Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing

    The bold purple cover of this book stood out to me at Chapters when I was supposed to be shopping for others and I couldn’t help but purchase. I haven’t read a book this quickly in a long time.

    It wasn’t until I was in the book that I realized I had actually read one of your past novels by fluke and had really enjoyed it. Your writing style, especially the short chapters, is something I very much enjoy.

    This book is beautiful. Personally, I relate to it very much as I come from a broken
    Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shilpi Somaya Gowda is one of the authors where I anxiously look forward to their next book! So, I was very excited (and many thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers) to be able to read The Shape of Family before its publication date.
    Once again, Ms. Gowda takes us on an interesting journey that explores grief, families and culture.
    In this book, we meet the Olander family - mother, Jaya, is Indian and father, Keith, is white. Their cultural backgrounds are very different as were their
    Alison Page
    Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
    A lot of emotions came to surface while reading this. I really enjoyed the storyline and the writing.
    Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing

    Wow! I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. It tugged at my heartstrings and kept my mind whirring. I was so sad for the first third of the book that I had to keep putting it aside because the tears blurred my vision but it was all so beautiful too. Seeing how Gowda pulled the family members stories along was modern, clever and drew me in deeply. I am a big fan of the author’s previous works and had high expectations going in to this one. She did not disappoint. I won’t spoil any of the
    Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Sweet, touching, moving, suspenseful, heart-breaking.
    How much can a family withstand, and how far in different directions can tragedy drive its members?
    An all-around wonderful read, and easily one of my favourite books of 2019!
    Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Really nice:-) ...more
    Teena in Toronto
    Nov 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
    Shelves: canadian
    I got about a quarter of the way in and couldn’t read any more ... I found it really dreary and depressing.
    Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    I give this book a strong 4 stars. It was a steady moving, emotional read. Not emotional like you're going to find yourself in tears the entire way through, but in that way where you can find yourself truly feeling what the main character is going through...loss, feeling unsure of herself, low self-esteem, how she feels and ends up reacting to the things that have shaped her into who she is, and how she is finally letting herself be ok (for lack of better way of putting it at this time). The ...more
    Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: giveaways
    When tragedy strikes, can everyone involved stay connected? Is the bond of a family strong enough to endure what life has in store for each member? Shilpi Somaya Gowda takes the reader on a journey of hope and despair and wondering in what shape will this family be as the pages start to dwindle. Couldn't put it down until the last sentence was read.
    Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
    I love Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s books! This was a really good story and the reason I’m giving it a 4 star vs 5 is that I found it took quite awhile to get into the story....I’m very glad I stuck with it and recommend it! I look forward to another book....hopefully coming soon!
    Howard Turner
    Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    While reading I felt I was part of the Olander family. Each family member sunk into their own dark places before discovering a path toward healing and took me on their journey.
    Dianne Kaucharik
    Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
    The writing is smooth and inviting, and the story... heartbreaking with some cultural elements as well as unexpected turns. As a parent, this was a tough read. Make sure you are in a good headspace to take this on.
    Heather Wahl
    Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    One of the best books I have read in years!!!!
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    Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. In college, she spent a summer as a volunteer in an Indian orphanage, which seeded the idea for her first novel, Secret Daughter, published in 2010. It was a New York Times and #1 international bestseller, and was translated into over 30 languages. Secret Daughter was shortlisted for the South African Boeke Literary Prize, longlisted for ...more