18 March 2020

The Shape of Family | Book Review


“Deeply involving….Rings so true.” —Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room

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 Shape of Family is a novel about race and culture, parents and siblings, marriage and love, but most of all, it’s about finding hope after darkness. Shilpi Somaya Gowda is a compassionate and wise storyteller who keeps us riveted from beginning to end.” —Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation

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 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.

Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: March 17, 2020


The Olanders are a typical family, and of course, doing life as a family has its complications. Together, they navigated those complications as best they can—until a tragedy breaks them apart. To come back together, they will need to understand one another—and themselves—in new, more honest ways.

Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s The Shape of Family is heartbreaking, as each Olander reacts to and finds solace after the tragedy in different ways. My heart ached to see the family lose touch with the very people that could help the most, making it a hard story to keep reading sometimes. Of course, Gowda does not leave her characters without a bit of hope, healing, and encouraging growth, and I enjoyed that progression.

The Shape of Family is a perfect read for anyone looking for a moving, family-oriented story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.


Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Her previous novels, Secret Daughter and The Golden Son became international bestsellers, selling over one million copies worldwide. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain scholar. She lives in California with her husband and children.


1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one! Thank you for being on the tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours