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March 26, 2020

The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"There are so many ways to die without actually leaving the world.  You can cut off a piece of yourself or your feelings.  You can stop doing the things you love or lose sight of your dreams and goals.  You can separate yourself from those who love you or you can never be willing to find love at all.  You can withdraw from the world or you can go through life without seeking anything bigger than yourself.  These may all look like ways of living but they're not.  They're ways of dying." (p 324)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

March 2020; William Morrow; 978-0062933225
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); literary
The Shape of Family is a beautifully written story about a family and how grief affected them as a family and as individuals.  The story is told by each of the family members but Karina's story is the central part of the novel.  The novel begins with them as a cohesive family but the grief makes them take their own paths and follow their own plans for the future.

The family is made up of

  • Keith, a banker from Philadelphia
  • Jaya, the daughter of an Indian diplomat
  • Karina - their 11-year-old daughter who is a headstrong and often difficult child
  • Prem- their 5-year-old son who is the joy of the family

The novel begins in 2007 and is about the struggles and changes in this family for the next nine years.  As it begins, they are a happy family enjoying their lives together.  Keith spends too much time at work and Jaya also works but their family is still the most important part of their lives.  Despite the 6 year age difference, the two children are very close and enjoy spending time with each other.  When a terrible tragedy happens, the foundation of the family starts to crack as each member tries to find a way to deal with their grief.  Jaya becomes more spiritual and relies on the gods and goddesses in Indian history, Keith works more and longer hours, Karina focuses on her future and independence. And Prem watches helplessly as his once close-knit family drifts apart.

When Karina leaves for college, her goal is to get as far away from her family as possible and to work to find her own identity.  This quest leads her down a dark path as she becomes involved with people she thinks will help her find herself but are only interested in their personal goals with no thought for Karina.  Once she gets in so deep, her parents come to her rescue and the family cracks start to heal.

The Shape of Family 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.  It's emotional and heartwarming with a family that I won't soon forget.

I enjoyed this book so much that I just ordered earlier books by this author.  This is one of my most favorite books of the year.

Buy The Shape of Family at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. It doesn't sound like a real feel good read, but it is definitely one that would be right up my alley. Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours