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The Shape of Family

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  2,703 ratings  ·  392 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 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 Ph
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published March 17th 2020 by William Morrow (first published October 15th 2019)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,703 ratings  ·  392 reviews

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Katie B
I lost track how many times I started crying while reading this book. There were just certain things that really resonated with me. I think books sometimes find their way into your life at the right moment and I think that is the case here. Had I read this book six months ago or a year from now maybe I wouldn't have felt such an emotional impact.

I normally write a synopsis in my reviews but in my opinion the publisher's synopsis is perfect as it gives you an idea of what the book is about but it
Elyse  Walters
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 begin
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
I own all three of this author’s books. I’ve wanted to read them ever since I read rave reviews of Secret Daughter and because the author and I share a beloved alma mater. I’m so grateful I finally read a book of hers and that it was The Shape of Family.

I think the best compliment we can give to a book is that we connected with it. Who knows what the thread or threads may be; sometimes I think it’s a familiar experience or circumstance. Mostly it’s brought on by feelings as if we can insert ours
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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 a
Jennifer Blankfein
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lots of tears were shed as I read about the Olander’s. After trauma strikes, this family falls apart as each person deals with pain, sadness and loneliness in their own ways.

The Shape of Family is an emotional story of a family in crisis. Despite the sadness, I loved it.

The Olanders lived the American dream. Jaya, a diplomat’s daughter from India, and Keith, a bank executive from Pennsylvania met in London in the late 1980s and years later made a beautiful home together in California with their
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When tragedy befalls a family, blame and grief widen the cracks and isolate the remaining members. A mother who misses her culture, a father who is a workaholic, and a daughter who is searching for an outlet for the pain. The Shape of Family is an intimate portrayal of how lost someone can get when a loved one is taken away and how families can grieve together a
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 m
I really enjoyed this hearbreaking family drama read about a family who suffered through a painful tragedy. The writing was beautiful, sensitive and realistic that I related to the characters immediately.

This was my first book with Gowda and she became a favorite very quickly. This was an amazing character driven story in which the readers will experience how each of the family members dealt with this terrible tragedy in each of their own way. Warning - the first 10 percent of the book had me i
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarything
A moving, poignant portrait of what grief can do to a family. This is a very realistic story, even though there are chapters written by a ghost (those are some of the most heart rending chapters). Each member of the family take turns telling their story and some of the chapters I liked much more than others. At one point, I did begin to lose interest in the parents' tales. Karina's story is the most touching. Recommended. ...more
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this hearbreaking family drama read about a family who suffered through a painful tragedy. The writing was beautiful, sensitive and realistic that I related to the characters immediately.

This was my first book with Gowda and she became a favorite very quickly. This was an amazing character driven story in which the readers will experience how each of the family members dealt with this terrible tragedy in each of their own way. Warning - the first 10 percent of the book had me i
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars ✨ I couldn’t put this down. A beautiful story that is raw, sad and hopeful. Do yourself a favor and read this one! 🙌
Nancy Brooks Bourne
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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!!
Nic Nacks Corner
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 h
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Daughter by this author, but I found this book rather far fetched and Karina to be extremely naive and unbelievable. You could tell exactly where the plot was going. I was expecting more from this author.
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There are just certain books that resonate and bring out a symphony of emotions. This was one. I cried so much that it took some time before my red swollen eyes recovered! How are families shaped by a devastating accident? This book explored just that by focusing on one family and their fall out from a tragedy. It delivered a powerful and thoughtful account of how each person takes their own path to manage pain and ultimately comes to terms with it. It focused more specifically on the lies we te ...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
Apr 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-read
The Shape of Family is the story of the Olander family’s experiences with grief after tragedy.

I have had loss in the not-too-distant past, and that was the main reason that I picked up this book. I’ve moved far enough along in my own process of grief that I felt like I could handle seeing what the experiences of other people may be like. Grief crippled me for a long time and I was curious to see if my own experience comes anywhere close to that of the Olander family.

In some ways, I really felt w
Tea Jovanović
I’ve fallen in love with Shipli’s writing with her debut novel... And I became her Serbian editor... That makes me non-objective reader :)
This novel touched me personally... My dad lost his 11 months older brother when he was 13 years old, in a similar accident, and that impacted deeply his life and his mother’s... and his younger half-brother born 4 years after the accident... That shaped my family...
So this book deals with serious things that scar family members, where they react in different
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Shape of Family did not disappoint! This novel is hearbreaking, emotional and educational at the same time. The characters are engaging and realistic. Have your tissues ready!
Elena L.
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
[3,5/5 stars]

THE SHAPE OF FAMILY is a family saga that centers around the Olander family after a terrible tragedy happens.
This book focuses on the healing process of this family, as we follow different responses from each member regarding the trauma. I enjoyed a lot the beginning which I was eager to read the Olander family's new dynamic - what was considered a healthy healing? I found myself judging quickly people's action even knowing beforehand their life's experience/struggles.

The writing s
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 captivatin
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 ans ...more
Azita Rassi
3.5 stars rather. This is a very easy read. You can practically glide through the pages. What made me take away those stars was that this book is more tell than show. At times you feel that the writer is underestimating either the reader’s intelligence or her own writing skills because she feels the need to drive her point home again and again and again. And that’s a loss because otherwise the story is beautiful. This is a novel that should have been a superb novella with the help of a talented, ...more
I enjoyed her other books substantially more.
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If the story of the Olander's does not tug at your heart strings; I don't know what to tell you. I felt every emotion that Jaya, Keith, and Karina experienced. There is grief, anger, guilt, loneliness, forgiveness, and happiness.

This book is told from each family member's point of view. Alternating between each family member; draws me the reader into the story more. Therefore, I form a strong emotional connection to everyone. The actions that each family member did, I did not judge them but und
Karen Mcnicol
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a great book, I love how each chapter was from a family members point of view. When a tragedy in the family happens, this books shows how each member of the family handles it. You can feel the grief in this family, it will tear at your heart and make you feel like you are right there with them. I love Shilpi Somaya Gowda's books so much. ...more
Glenna Pritchett
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs, 2020-books
The Shape of Family is a heartbreaking window into a family whose grief caused each of them to draw away from the others and self-destruct in different ways. Young Karina self-destructed most of all, caught between the cultures of her parents, Indian and American, and so burdened by grief and guilt that she was nearly destroyed.

I read Ms. Gowda's book The Golden Son awhile back and was impressed by her beautiful prose, so I was eager to pick up this one. I recommend it to readers who enjoy comin
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up from the new releases shelf at the library as I enjoy family stories told from different perspectives. Very early on in The Shape of Family, I was reminded of The Lovely Bones as each book contains a character watching over the family. Very different stories and “observational” character doesn’t drive the story but adds a nice layer.
Jessica Haider
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways, fiction
Trigger Warning: Death of a child

The Shape of Family is a moving novel about the impact of grief on a family. The Oldander family lives in California living a comfortable, happy upper middle class life. Kieth works in finance and his wife Jaya is the daughter of an Indian diplomat. They have two children Karina (13) and Prem (8).

When tragedy strikes, the family is wracked by grief and starts to fall apart. Everyone struggles to make sense of their life and each follow their own paths to try to
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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

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