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 a modern family 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.
“Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s flair for detail is evident. . . . The prose is so achingly touching, it draws the reader in with every description and emotion of the characters.”
Praise for The Golden Son
“A sensitive and intelligent work . . . [with a] finely drawn protagonist. . . . Demonstrates Gowda’s abilities as a sympathetic observer of heart and mind.”
“Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s great achievement is this: she makes each locale she depicts fascinating and true and original; she makes each character she draws so heartbreakingly vibrant that even after we finish reading we can’t forget them.”
“Vivid, heart-warming, and absorbing.”
“Shilpi Somaya Gowda is as adept at crafting disparate, fully realized worlds…as she is at creating compelling characters.”
“Gowda can write up moments that break your heart.”
“A nuanced coming-of-age story that is faithful to the economic and emotional realities of two very different cultures.”
“A beautifully composed compelling story of love, loss, discovery and the true meaning of family.”
Praise for Secret Daughter
"A deeply involving story of a family falling apart, THE SHAPE OF FAMILY rings so true."
“At turns harrowing and uplifting. . . . Compulsively readable and inspiring.”