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TLC Review: The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Title: The Shape of Family
AuthorShilpi Somaya Gowda
Year Published: 2020

Genre: Adult fiction
Pages: 352
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map): USA (CA)

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from TLC Tours for a fair and honest review

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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, meet in a London pub in 1988 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 home.

But 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 apart.

When 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 choices.

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.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Review: I have loved the last two books I read by Gowda, Secret Daughter and The Golden Son so had high expectations for this one. I read it as the Coronavirus stuff was ramping up so my reading was very disjointed. That said, I enjoyed this book and have ranked it a 4.5, but I did like the other two better.

This is a character-driven novel, for sure. The Olander family--Karina, Prem, Keith, and Jaya--are all good characters who are well developed. They do each narrate chapters and there are some chapters in which all viewpoints are presented. Karina is really the main character and I felt very connected to her and her grief, trauma, and experiences. This may have been because she goes off to college at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which is where my parents both worked and I did my Masters degree and teaching credential.

There is a lot going on in this novel, but it's all connected. I love they way the author deals with grief, community persuasion, and people of all ages who are trying to find their way in the world. If you like reading about family dynamics, this book is a good one.

Challenges for which this counts: 
For the Pop Sugar challenge, this book is about a woman (Karina) who is in STEM.

Review tour:

Tuesday, March 17th: Lit and Life
Wednesday, March 18th: Book by Book
Thursday, March 19th: Helen’s Book Blog
Friday, March 20th: Instagram: @thebookclubmom
Monday, March 23rd: BookNAround
Tuesday, March 24th: Really Into This
Wednesday, March 25th: Orange County Readers
Thursday, March 26th: Girl Who Reads
Friday, March 27th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, March 30th: The Book Diva’s Reads
Tuesday, March 31st: Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader
Wednesday, April 1st: Into the Hall of Books
Thursday, April 2nd: Welcome to Nurse Bookie
Friday, April 3rd: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Monday, April 6th: What Is That Book About
Tuesday, April 7th: Instagram: @crystals_library
Wednesday, April 8th: Openly Bookish
Thursday, April 9th: Girls Just Reading
Friday, April 10th: Tabi Thoughts

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