Summary: The Shape of Thunder
The Shape of Thunder follows two former best friends Quinn and Cora whose lives have been altered by a tragic event. Quinn’s brother Parker killed Cora’s sister in a school shooting. Understandably, this created a rift between both girls, even though they still deeply care for each other and have been friends since kindergarten. As they approach the first anniversary of the shooting, Quinn thinks she’s found a way to undo what happened and reaches out to Cora to work with her.
The story is told from alternating points of view (Quinn and Cora) as both girls try to figure out time travel, while processing the grief and trauma they both hold.
This is a very moving book and so well written too. So many readers — both of middle grade and adult books — were fans of Warga’s Other Words for Home. This is a much different book, but just as brilliant. It also tackles a (sadly) timely topic in a realistic, age-appropriate way.
I loved both girls, but I felt especially drawn to Quinn. Her quiet grief, the feeling of guilt and responsibility for a crime she did not commit, and the complicated emotions she felt about her brother whom she’d known her whole life. Warga depicts all those emotions flawlessly. You’ll find yourself flipping page after page which can be tough with stories about tough issues.
I felt for Cora too. The deep grief of losing a sister in a family where she already had no mother. She and her sister were raised by their grandmother and father after their mother abandoned their family. There’s also the guilt of still loving Quinn when her brother killed Cora’s sister, Mabel. Cora is also Arab-American and finds herself trying to connect to her culture. Thankfully, the people in Cora’s life are supportive, from her Quiz Bowl friends to her father and ever present grandmother.
A major theme in this book is time travel. Quinn becomes convinced that they can reverse everything that happened by means of time travel. The idea is also a way to reconnect with Cora who loves science and challenges. Both girls work hard to get their idea into action, but also in a way, it may be the little ember that re-ignites their relationship.
Overall: The Shape of Thunder
The Shape of Thunder is a brilliant, moving, and realistic take on the effect of school shootings, death, and grief on the lives of children. This book is a reminder that kids should not have to feel unsafe anywhere, but especially at school. It is also a heartfelt ode to childhood friendships and people who know us even better than we know ourselves. With exceptional storytelling prowess, Warga has created a timeless classic about family, loss, and forgiveness.
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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