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review 2020-03-18 20:49
The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
The Shape of Family - Shilpi Somaya Gowda

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


When tragedy befalls a family, blame and grief widen the cracks and isolate the remaining members. A mother who misses her culture, a father who is a workaholic, and a daughter who is searching for an outlet for the pain. The Shape of Family is an intimate portrayal of how lost someone can get when a loved one is taken away and how families can grieve together and separately, trying to find their way back to one another.


Everyone in her family had their secrets, and Karina became practiced at keeping them.


Utilizing first person povs, The Shape of Family, jumps povs and time periods (mostly linearly) between Jaya (mother), Keith (father), Karina (daughter/sister), and Prem (son/brother). The story starts introducing the family through Karina's eyes and we learn that she sees it as Prem and her against the world. With an Indian mother and American father, kids at school constantly remark on her skin tone. Her mother is proud of her culture, while Karina sees any hallmark of it as another way to make her different. She's a bit closer to her father because of this issue and while she has a bestfriend Izzy, Karina ultimately sees Prem as the only one who can feel like her and understand.


This sets-up the emotional foundation for when a couple chapters later, Prem drowns in the family pool. Karina is thirteen at the time and watching him while her parents are at work, she performs CPR but is unable to save him. The guilt she feels from this is obvious and as readers follow her throughout her life, this tragedy and guilt is apparent in every decision she makes. We get povs from her parents, Jaya's guilt sends her searching for answers, which she looks for in religion, and Keith's guilt at his inability to keep his wife from depression and daughter from pushing him away has him throwing himself more into his work. The story though, mainly follows Karina.


Mr. and Mrs. Olander,” the officer says as they reach the top landing, her hand on the door handle. “I'm not sure what's happening with your daughter. All I know is she needs your love and support right now.”


Karina tries to handle her grief through cutting but when she goes off to college, she finds relief in becoming a new person, no one knowing about Prem. This pushing away and ignoring those emotions works for awhile, until her first love ends up being her first heartbreak and she once again is lost as to how to deal with her pain. Her vulnerability is taken advantage of and Karina finds, what she thinks of as love and family, in a commune with increasingly cult like actions.


This was a poignant dip into how grief can affect a family individually and as a whole. While we get pov looks into how Jaya and Keith are handling their son's death, I thought there could have been more between the two; they divorce and I thought we missed reading/feeling some of that emotional upheaval. Readers also get Prem's pov after he dies and I'm not sure this worked for me. Except for a crossroads moment towards the end, his pov didn't add anything for me and I think having him completely absent would have made the characters stark cut-off even more felt to the reader.


They are flawed, all three of them, but they belong to each other.


Whims of fate, Keith ended up surviving 9/11 because of a delayed meeting but their son drowns in the family pool, and the fact that there is no set time on how long grief can keep a hold of you, were achingly apparent in this story. The way the characters tried to fill their lives with things that turned out to be empty for them and beginning to see that acknowledging, addressing, and processing their emotions through therapy was helpful to them, was deep and thoughtful. The Shape of Family will have you shedding a tear or two as the Olander family rides the waves of grief.





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text 2020-03-16 17:18
Reading Update: Page 1
The Shape of Family - Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Best wishes Monday to all that may be feeling the pinch and stress. Sinking into this book and a delicious meal to boost the spirits.


The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda purchase link


Chili-Orange Shrimp with Broccoli Couscous recipe

Wild taste combos but delicious!


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review 2018-05-08 14:51
[Kurz-Rezension] Shilpi Somaya Gowda - Geheime Tochter
Geheime Tochter - Shilpi Somaya Gowda,Ulrike Wasel,Klaus Timmermann

Somers Leben ist genauso, wie sie es sich immer vorgestellt hat. Frisch verheiratet, mit einem neuen Job als Ärztin in San Francisco. Doch dann stellt sie fest, dass sie keine Kinder bekommen kann.Zur gleichen Zeit wird in einem abgelegenen indischen Dorf ein Mädchen geboren. Kavita, die Mutter, erkennt, dass sie das Leben ihrer Tochter nur retten kann, wenn sie sie weggibt. Als Somer und ihr Ehemann ein Foto des Mädchens in einem Waisenhaus in Mumbai sehen, entscheiden sie sich für eine Adoption. Somer ahnt, dass dieser Weg nicht leicht wird. Aber sie hofft, dass Liebe alle Probleme lösen kann.
Shilpi Somaya Gowdas Debüt war in den USA und Kanada ein Sensationserfolg – es stand über viele Monate auf Platz eins der Bestsellerlisten. Der große Roman über eine Suche nach den Wurzeln und nach dem, was das Leben ausmacht, bewegt inzwischen Leserinnen auf der ganzen Welt.


Taschenbuch: 448 Seiten
Verlag: KiWi-Taschenbuch (16. August 2012)
Sprache: Deutsch
ISBN-10: 3462044451
ISBN-13: 978-3462044454
Originaltitel: Secret Daughter
Größe: 13 x 2,8 x 19,9 cm


Somer und Krishnan, die in San Francisco leben und an sich glücklich sind, aber keine Kinder bekommen können und Jasu und Kavita, die zwar Kinder bekommen können, aber in ihrem Leben in Indien keine Möglichkeit haben, die Mitgift für das Mädchen aufzubringen, zudem kommt noch dazu, dass Töchter in den Dorf als Unglücksbringer gelten, sind zwei Familie aus komplett unterschiedlichen Lebenswelten, aber die Geburt von Usha verbindet die Familie auf eine emotionale Weise. Denn während Somer auf Wolke Sieben mit ihrem Kind schwebt, ist Kavita in tiefer Trauer um ihre Tochter...
Shilpi Somaya Gowda gewöhrt zu Beginn des Buches erstmal einen Einblick in das Leben in Indien - und das ist bei weiten nicht alles Bollywood, wie man gerne in den Filmen zeigt. Die Realität ist hart und schonungslos und das Leben ist nicht leicht und so müssen manchmal Entscheidungen getroffen werden, wie emotional nur schwer zu verkraften sind. Töchter gelten in den Dörfern Indien als Unglücksbringer und dann wird Usha geboren - und verbindet 2 Familie als unterschiedlichen Welten auf eine sehr tiefe emotionale Weise.
Shilpi Somaya Gowda gelingt in ihrem Buch ein schwieriger Spagat zwischen zwei Lebenswelten und sie zeigt emotional, wie schwer es für alle ist, wenn ein Kind aus Indien in die USA adoptiert wird und welche Schwierigkeiten auf alle Beteiligten zukommen. Sie schafft es durch ihre gefühlvolle Art, die verschiedenen Probleme und Schwierigkeiten sehr nach an den Leser zu bringen und das Gefühl, was alle Beteiligen schütteln, auch an den Leser weiter zu vermitteln. Unterstützt wird die Vermittlung an den Leser durch die verschiedenen Blickwinkel aus denen das Buch erzählt wird, so lernt man dann auch alle Protagonisten recht gut kennen.
Etwas Abzug gibt es aber, weil das Buch etwas zu sehr kulturell an der Oberfläche bleibt, da fehlt etwas die Tiefe um zu zeigen, wie verschiedenen die Kulturen doch sind und auch der Abschluss der Geschichte ist zwar realistisch, aber irgendwie etwas unbefriedigend.

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review 2014-03-01 00:00
Secret Daughter
Secret Daughter - Shilpi Somaya Gowda I had read half the book and when my American teacher left, so I was glad I didn't have to finish it. Seriously boring, but she was a nice person, so I tried it for her. Phew.
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review 2013-05-24 00:00
Secret Daughter: A Novel
Secret Daughter - Shilpi Somaya Gowda Not bad, but not that great either. While the author had all the right ingredients for her dish, I just felt like the final product was a bit lacking. Her writing style and the tense in which she wrote hindered the smoothness of the book and her multiple points of views were sometimes too much. There was either too much or not enough. I'd actually like to see what she comes up with next. Whether she'll stick to what she knows--due to her heritage--or whether she'll branch out and do something out of her comfort zone.
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