Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"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."

My Thoughts:

The Shape of Family is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time to come.  It was a heartbreaking and emotional read at times but also just SO GOOD!  This book made me feel all of the emotions at one point or another.  It made me happy in certain points, broke my heart in others, and even made me feel anger at others.  The characters were everything in this book!  They felt realistic and flawed but I wanted the best for them the entire time.  Even when I wasn't on board with the decisions they were making or felt frustrated by their choices, I wanted what was best for them.  I cared about them like they were real people because the author brought them to life for me.  It was an incredibly moving experience reading about their lives and seeing the choices that they made.  It's hard because I'm being very careful here in what I say because I don't want to spoil anything.  The above summary also did a good job with not giving too much away which I feel is important.  More than anything, this is a book to be experienced in my opinion!  The author has created characters that I couldn't help but care and want the best for.  I also enjoyed the fact that the author explored identity in this book and the struggles that the characters faced with this in different ways.  This book is about family and what that can mean.  The struggles that families can face, the things that can break a family apart, and what can bring them together.  It was a beautiful book that I'm not doing justice with this review so I will just say to read it.  This is a book that deserves to be read widely and found by so many other readers!  I'm so glad that stepped out of my comfort zone and read this book because it was just SO, SO good!  It's really as simple as that!

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely and have the feeling it will end up on my top reads list for 2020!  I knew that I wanted to push my reading boundaries this year and books like this are exactly why!  What other amazing books have I missed by not pushing myself more?  I can say without doubt that I will be reading more by this author in the future.  It looks like I have at least two more of her books to look forward to which is very exciting.  I'm so excited to see what other readers have thought of this one and to discuss it.  Especially because there was a quote on the very last page that was breathtaking but I didn't share since it might be considered to be a bit spoiler-ey.  It was so gorgeous though that I want to talk about it with other readers!  I highly recommend this one!

Bottom Line:  An emotional and standout read for me!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Honest thoughts are my own.

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