... engrossing ... Gowda renders even the worst decisions made by the Olanders with compassion and insight, so much so that rooting for them — despite and because of their fragility — becomes a pleasure. I know these characters, and I love them, and for some unnameable hours in this uneasy spring, their journey from life, to death, to life was also mine. What a gift, to be that transported, and, eventually — blessedly — transformed ... How good to be reminded that though we fail each other so frequently, we are also each other’s only hope.
... a poignant, painful and unforgettable novel about how one family falls apart --- and comes back together --- following a life-changing tragedy ... Gowda invites readers into the full depths of the Olander family’s pain and dissolution ... As she settles into college life, once again feeling like an outsider, Karina becomes the star of the novel. Gowda writes her pain and guilt so beautifully that it reads like poetry ... Gowda’s descriptions of their grief, coping mechanisms and bad decisions are as compassionate as they are profound. This is clearly a writer who has studied the full spectrum of human emotion, but even more impressive is her ability to render it so beautifully on the page. She never once dulls the intensity of her characters’ emotions, but still manages to make them palatable, digestible and, through it all, universal. This is by no means a novel for the faint of heart --- the emotions held within are too strongly felt, too expertly rendered --- but it is one that will resonate deeply with anyone who has felt the crushing weight of guilt, grief or isolation ... This is my first time reading one of Gowda’s works, but I have already purchased her entire backlist and plan to continue following her. If The Shape of Family is any indication of her talent, I know that I have found a new favorite author.
This introspective story challenges readers to consider how a tragedy involving one member forever changes the whole family ... Thought-provoking to the core, The Shape of Family is both a warning about how our lives can change in an instant and a testament to the strength we must summon to keep a family whole.