The Shape of Family

About the Author: Shilpi Somaya Gowda

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


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  • Hardcover
  • 352 pages
  • The Shape of Family
  • Shilpi Somaya Gowda
  • 12 September 2017
  • 9780062933225

The Shape of FamilyFrom 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 TragedyThe 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 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 HomeBut 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 ApartWhen 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 ChoicesThe Seekers 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

10 thoughts on “The Shape of Family

  1. Karen says:

    THE SHAPE OF FAMILYBY SHILPI SOMAYA GOWDAWOW 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 apart Each person dealing with their grief in vastly different ways It is very realistic and could easily happen to the most closely knit family living with their individual circumstances This story is unforgettable and will haunt me in the way great contemporary literature does It is really a character study that ensues with the fallout of one of the worst kind of horrific events Jaya is a mother and wife who was born in India who emigrates to London where she meets Keith who was born in the United States They get married and have a teenager daughter named Karina and a younger son named Prem As the reader gets further into the book they will read a section from all four of this families point of views Or accurately stated one person s point of view and sections describing the other three s narrative as they carry onward I could relate to these character s and even though I wouldn t have done what Karina did I found that it was realistic and could easily happen I am trying really hard not to supply any information that would spoil it for any reader Suffice it to say that although sad, this is ultimately a beautiful story and the writing is lovely and there is ultimately hope I have not read any of this Author s previous two novels but I am definitely going to look into reading them next I highly recommend this to everybody.Thank you to Net Galley, Shilpi Somaya Gowda and HarperCollins Publishing for generously providing me with my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review All opinions are my own I really loved this.

  2. Elyse Walters says:

    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 inthe gutthat 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 beginning.it didn t take long to see that the writing had that cut by numbers crafting that I so tired of.a familiar formula.The story has predictable dialogue stereotyping each of the characters Jaya mother says The prospect of letting her first born go into the world reminded her inescapably of the child who had left her naturally years ago.Karina first born child was looking forward to a fresh start moving away to college, making new friends, with hopes of no longer cutting herself in a new environment Keith had been dating freely though only for casual recreation for years now Prem says When I was alive I liked being a pair with.his sister, a pair with his mom, a pair his dad etc The author shows us how each character, Keith, Jaya, Prem, and Karina , handled their grief and moved on She examines different solutions Self harm, obsessive working, a spiritual path, divorce, coming of age, and time years moving on Unfortunately lightness doesn t comes flooding down the pipes rather it s doled out in droplets.It wasn t only the content s bleakness that was wearisome I m not a fan of dead children narrators I felt as if the author included the dead boys point of view so that readers could handle the grief of a young child dying First we get a horrific tragedy but then we get comforted by the person we re hurting for It felt a little forgive me manipulate, directing our feelings, not trusting our own Not sure I m communicating myself correctly but I was very aware of what didn t feel right We got a play on emotions.As if the child was saying It s cool, I m ok I don t blame anyone for my death.yep, it s cool, I m cool Each family member was heartbroken than angry That we get Our author must have the most loving sincere heart Her care for her characters comes through loud and clear This story is based in realism I appreciate the tenderness and honesty the writing comes frombut it lacked styling flair, freshness, and interesting character ranges I probably just read too muchnothing was new for me but I think many people will like this bookabout a family, tragedy, grief, moving on.Thank you HarperCollins publishers, Netgalley, and Shilpi Somaya Gowda

  3. Laurie • The Baking Bookworm says:

    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 much to think about making it an excellent book club selection This is a poignant and honest look at how grief affects people differently I believe readers who have experienced such a loss will especially connect with the Olander family s journey from paralyzing grief, to their subsequent disconnection from each other and onward into healing as this family begins to understand what it means to be a family again.

  4. Nancy Brooks Bourne says:

    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 .

  5. Joanne says:

    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

  6. Swati says:

    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 person as they go their separate ways The book loses a star only because it stumbles towards the end with the introduction of, what I feel, some unnecessary plot lines I also didn t quite understand the purpose of Prem s voice in the middle Ok, it doesn t need a purpose but somehow it was distracting, like a page hanging loose from a book A lovely read I can t wait to read some of Shilpi Gowda s other books.

  7. Di says:

    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 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.

  8. Dawn CM says:

    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.

  9. Smitha Murthy says:

    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 answers but Shilpi Somaya Gowda has made me think.

  10. Aarthy says:

    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 captivating and you become so involved with the characters that you feel like you know them She does a fantastic job at character development throughout the book This book really focuses on the human aspect of pain and healing in almost a poetic way Her writing style is so beautiful I had pages bookmarked to reread the passage again and again Highly recommend.