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The Shape of Family

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  263 ratings  ·  33 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 a modern family in a globalized world. Jaya, the cultured daughter of an Indian diplomat and Keith, an ambitious banker from middle-class Philadelphia, meet
Paperback, 344 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by HarperCollins Publishers
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  • The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
    The Shape of Family
    Release date: Mar 17, 2019
    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

    Giveaway ends in: a

    Availability: 100 copies available, 1444 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Dec 07 - Dec 19, 2019

    Countries available: U.S.

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    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 3.88  · 
    Rating details
     ·  263 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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    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
    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
    Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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!!
    Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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  ·  review of another edition
    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.
    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 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Nic Nacks Corner
    Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    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
    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
    Linda Cousens
    Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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.
    Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

    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 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Really nice:-) ...more
    Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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  ·  review of another edition
    Fantastic read!
    Girl Well Read
    A special thank you to Edelweiss and HarperCollins Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    The Shape of Family is an intimate look at a family fractured by an unspeakable tragedy. Jaya and Keith meet in 1988 at a pub in London—she is the cultured daughter of an Indian diplomat and he is a middle-class banker from Philadelphia. Their union results in a house in the suburbs of California complete with two children; Karina is the oldest, a typical strong-willed teenager, and Prem, their
    2.5 stars

    I have loved this author's 2 previous books and feel uncomfortable giving such a low review for this book because I can only imagine the heart and soul that goes into writing a novel. However I struggle to give more stars because this book fell so flat for me. The initial events got me hooked but the story took an odd, unrealistic turn for me from there and never really landed back properly for me. There were several important topics that were touched upon in this book but I felt like
    Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: literary-fiction
    *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.*

    This book begins when tragedy strikes at the heart of an otherwise ordinary multi-racial family living in California. The story follows the lives of each of the family members as they struggle to cope with the aftermath, each in their own way.

    Gowda does an impressive job of showing how tragic circumstances have the power to both tear a family apart and bring it closer together than before. Although the first 2/3 of the book was still
    Dec 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Excellent story.........sometimes felt like a story I have read before but then it became a different way of writing, liked the ending and the details the author conveyed about things like meditation, dance, marajuana planting and harvesting, horses, gardening, and commune-like communities and their appeal to a vulnerable woman. Enjoyed this author, would like to read her other 2 books.
    Laura Lockhart
    Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
    I’m found this story boring to be honest. The author’s previous books I loved and found intriguing and I couldn’t wait to read this one. Unfortunately this one I found less of a story and more dwelling on one incident and from three perspectives so it’s the same thing over and over. I lost interest and put it down.
    Rubyna Jinnah
    Nov 23, 2019 rated it liked it
    Shelves: 2019
    Although the author’s writing is beautiful, this book was just OK for me. Not my favourite from this author. I wanted to like it more than I did. I felt that at times the storylines were just unbelievable and unrealistic.
    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.
    Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    Liked the story of Keith and Karina, but Jaya destroyed her daughter and then somehow comes out as a hero at the end. Nope. I know a number of Moms who have lost a child, and not one of them grieved by abandoning their surviving children, so not believable for me.
    Nov 19, 2019 rated it liked it
    Enjoyable book. Couldn't really identify with any of the characters, so only a 3 star
    Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Although I could figure out what was going to happen I enjoyed this book. The author has a way of drawing you in and making you want to finish this journey.
    Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    I really wanted to like this book but sadly it fell short for me. I didn’t particularly like the main protagonists and had a hard time connecting with their grief.
    Tricia Nociti
    Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Kleenex required

    Make sure you read this book!!!
    Definitely a heartbreaker but also fills you with so much love. You can always count on family.
    Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: poc-authors
    This took... a turn?
    Teena in Toronto
    Nov 11, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: canadian
    I got about a quarter of the way in and couldn’t read any more ... I found it really dreary and depressing.
    Rebecca Young
    Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    This book is beautifully written. I found myself very invested in Karina and her circumstances. Absolutely loved this!

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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