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Publisher's Summary

"Deeply involving.... Rings so true." (Emma Donoghue, best-selling author of Room)

From the international best-selling 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 best-selling 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. 

©2020 Shilpi Somaya Gowda (P)2020 HarperAudio

What listeners say about The Shape of Family

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Beautifully written; horrendous delivery

I've always felt that recorded telling of stories should enhance, not detract from the author's words. The female narrator's pronunciation of Sanskrit distracts from the beauty of the words. Jaya does not rhyme with Maya. Kurta is not pronounced kur-da. There is a passage in which the protagonist talks about the way a yoga instructor appropriates Indian culture by mispronouncing Sanskrit words and then the narrator butchers the words in delivery: chakra, asana. I wish I had read the book myself instead of listening to it.

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Heartbreaking Story of a Shattered Family

A well crafted novel with well written characters. It isn't an easy listen as unspeakable pain tears apart the family and leaves the individuals so damaged that normalcy is lost, replaced with deep darkness. As Karina's pain results in isolation and self harm and poor choices, I had to take breaks from listening, wanting to pull her into an embrace and offer some comfort.
Spoiler Alert: Self harm may be a trigger for some readers.