Cover Image: The Shape of Thunder

The Shape of Thunder

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is a difficult topic. I thought the story was well done.  The emotions are genuine. The families are real. I will propose this to our Mock Newbery.Club for next year.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley for providing this advance copy of The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga.
Jasmine Warga has done it again!  I was not able to put this book down.  The important topics of this book were covered in an incredibly real way.  Be sure to have a box to tissues near you as you read.  This book is deeply moving and beautifully written.  
Synopsis:  
Cora hasn’t spoken to her best friend, Quinn, in a year.
Despite living next door to each other, they exist in separate worlds of grief. Cora is still grappling with the death of her beloved sister in a school shooting, and Quinn is carrying the guilt of what her brother did.
On the day of Cora’s twelfth birthday, Quinn leaves a box on her doorstep with a note. She has decided that the only way to fix things is to go back in time to the moment before her brother changed all their lives forever—and stop him.
#TheShapeofThunder #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
This book was incredible. I can't remember rhe last time I truly sobbed at the end of a book. Jasmine Warga takes an absolutely horrific topic (school shootings) and handles it with the utmost care for a middle grade audience. The characters are well developed and the different family dynamics are true to life and heartwarming and heartbreaking (depending on the family). Will absolutely be buying this for my seventh grade classroom.
Was this review helpful?
I fell in love with Jasmine Warga’s novel, Other Words for Home, so I was excited to read an e-galley of her newest book, The Shape of Thunder. Cora and Quinn have been best friends forever, but they haven’t spoken in almost a year.  Cora is still dealing with intense grief after losing her sister in a school shooting and Quinn is traumatized by her brother’s actions.  On Cora’s 12th birthday, Quinn leaves her a package full of information about time travel, and the two hatch a plan to make everything right again. The Shape of Thunder is a story of friendship, hope and healing in the midst of unspeakable trauma. This book deals with really tough topics and it is heartbreaking at times, but it’s also beautiful and hopeful. Highly recommended for 5th grade and up.
Was this review helpful?
"There should be a word for when you miss a person in the future. Not just missing memories of them, but missing memories you never got to have with them" 💔 Ugh yes, this line from "The Shape of Thunder" is so true for anyone who has prematurely lost a loved one. I miss seeing my parents become grandparents, I miss seeing them at birthdays and holidays, I miss seeing them age. Trauma and grief are extremely complicated topics, so I loved reading this book that tackles these issues at a level that middle grade kiddos can relate to. This is one I will definitely read aloud with my kids once they are a tad older.
.
.
Cora and Quinn have been best friends since as long as they can remember, until it happened. Quinn's older brother brought a gun to school and killed 3 people, and then himself. One of those victims was Cora's older sister. This story is told from the perspective of both Cora and Quinn, as they try to understand what happened and how to move forward. Both girls have suffered, both girls miss their sibling who died prematurely, both girls want, more than anything, to go back and change the past. I was glad to see the perspective of both main characters, since both experiences are so complex and so realistic. I also love the cultural elements included because Cora is the daughter of a Lebanese immigrant. Y'all know I am all about immigrant stories.
Was this review helpful?
What is not to love about this story! The characters and the writing are phenomenal! each character is so unique and so well developed that even as a 30 year old I loved each one of them. I've read Warga's novels in the past and I know so many patrons who are eagerly awaiting the release of this book and they will not be sorry. This novel tackles heavy issues in a way that I think makes it understandable, relatable and manageable to younger readers. Warga is now on my auto-buy author list!
Was this review helpful?
Great middle grade read about friendship, loss, family dynamics, and having the confidence to be true to oneself despite what adults may wish.  A tragedy tears a friendship apart, but can truth and determination make it whole again?
Was this review helpful?
I didn't think Jasmine Warga could write a book as beautiful as "In Other Words," but "Shape of Thunder" proved me wrong. A well-written story, with characters that grow and learn, this was such a moving book.
Cora's sister was killed in a school shooting. Quinn's brother was the shooter. used to be best friends but now do not speak. Both are dealing with so many emotions and their families. Both feel guilt and both have to learn that there are some things you can not control. Quinn wonders if they could travel back in time, if everything would be better. Cora is a perfectionist, and once Quinn shares her thoughts, is desperate to find a worm-hole.
This book was so good, and I can't wait to add it to my school and share with the students.
Was this review helpful?
Nearly a year after their older siblings died, former best friends Cora and Quinn start to talk again. Cora has resented Quinn because Quinn's older brother, Parker, killed her sister, Mabel, in a school shooting. Neither of the girls are doing well and the families are struggling in different and similar ways. When Quinn brings up the idea of time travel, science-minded Cora finally breaks her silence and agrees to work with Quinn on cracking the code so they can bring their siblings back. It's not really a time travel story--this is about two girls in a lot of pain who don't know how to process what happened and aren't getting the adult support they need. The good: Warga normalizes the idea of getting professional help and talking to the adults around you, also acknowledging that some adults will not be helpful because they're in pain themselves. It's realistic that readers don't get the blow-by-blow of the shooting as children in that situation would likely be shielded from that information and either way, the results are the same: their sibling is gone. Warga keeps the focus on Cora and Quinn instead of trying to answer the unanswerable question of Why. Recommended. Review from e-galley.
Was this review helpful?
Wow!  What a gripping, heart-wrenching story.  Two families are torn apart by tragedy, but also forever connected. A touching, realistic, look at life after the unthinkable and how two families cope with these tragedies on their own.  Cora and Quinn's stories will stay with me for a long time!
Was this review helpful?
Before I begin my review, I must admit that I haven't read any of Jasmine Warga's other books. Now, after reading The Shape of Thunder, I know this is a mistake and I am going to read Other Words for Home as soon as possible. 

Cora and Quinn are were best friends. They grew up next door to each other and most of their memories include each other. After a tragic event and the grief that follows, the two girls try to repair their friendship. Their plan includes science and a little bit of magic, but only time will tell if they can fix everything that has happened. 

The Shape of Thunder was beautiful and impossible to put down. The grief and trauma both Cora and Quinn are experiencing was palpable. Jasmine Warga alternates between Cora and Quinn's perspectives, which helps the reader deeply understand both sides of this story.

The Shape of Thunder left me thinking about the grief we all experience, how we compartmentalize it, or we speak through the pain. Then, beyond the main story, Jasmine Warga expertly weaves in subplots that will connect with all middle-grade students. Friendships can be difficult, families are not always perfect, and it is important to find yourself even though it isn't easy. I am confident this will be a popular choice book for my students to read and it will resonate with many.
Was this review helpful?
"The Shape of Thunder" by Jasmine Warga is a beautifully written novel about grief, loss, and healing in the aftermath of the school shooting. The author did an amazing job telling the story of such a difficult topic. How can one make sense of things that don't make sense? Can two opposing things be true at the same time? Can a true friendship survive a horrific act?
Was this review helpful?
WOW! This was one of those books I did not want to put down. Dealing with fraught friendships, gun violence, absent parents and more; this book was outstanding. Warga did an amazing job of handling delicate subjects in a way that worked for this age reader. The book almost forced conversation and was done incredibly well.
Was this review helpful?
Wow! What an incredibly powerful middle grade story about loss, grief, family, friendship, and forgiveness. Oh, and time travel. Cora and Quinn have been best friends since they were in preschool, but when Quinn's older brother brought a gun to school and murdered Cora's older sister, their relationship understandably disintegrated. Will Quinn's plan to conjure up a wormhole and travel back in time to stop her brother actually happen? Can the girls move past their anger and grief and rekindle their friendship? Fans of middle grade realistic fiction will absolutely adore this book.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. This book has me speechless. The grappling and explanation of life, loss, and emotions is profound. I feel that this book would appeal to anyone struggling with the loss of a loved one, especially adolescents. I like how the author's main focus was not how the school shooting victims were selected based on race or religion. While one of the main characters in the book is Muslim, it is not really a focus point of the story, and the characters are Americanized. I do like how the author touches on other coming-of-age issues like cultural identity, crushes, friendship, etc, as these are cornerstones to the storm of emotions middle schoolers encounter. The book is exceptionally clean, without violence, expletives, etc. Whenever I find books that can help children come to terms with their feelings, I pass them along to our school counselor, and can't wait to add this one to the list.
Was this review helpful?
Usually when a book leaves me with a lot of questions, it is because the author's writing was incomplete or flawed, this book however, left me with a lot of questions and I'm certain the author did this deliberately. Hence, I don't know to be irritated or impressed that I care enough about the characters to want to know more.  Considering I'm still emotionally attached to the two alternating voices in the book, I'm going to claim the latter, and just be grateful that I was privy to follow the two girls for 288 pages and let the impression the book left me with overpower the curiosity I have to know everything about their past and their futures.  This middle grades read is absolutely wonderful and emotionally gripping.  I think all kids will have a hard time forgetting the story and characters, and more importantly I think over time they will recall and re evaluate their own thoughts regarding the personal weight of school shootings, gun ownership, sibling loss, responsibility, and maybe even the possibility of time travel.  I know this book will stay with me for a long time.  This amazing, half-Middle-Eastern half-American author in her OWN voice book somehow manages to discuss a school shooting without being political or preachy and the result is griping, heartbreaking, and powerful.

SYNOPSIS:
Told in alternating 12 year old voices: Quinn and Cora are neighbor girls that used to be best friends until Quinn's brother stole his father's guns and shot and killed students at his school before committing suicide.  One of the classmates he killed was Cora's older sister Mabel.  It has been nearly a year since the incident, and since the girls last spoke, but on Cora's 12 birthday, Quinn leaves a box on her door.

Cora is whip smart and grieving.  She lives with her dad, a professor and immigrant from Lebanon who speaks little about his culture or religion to his kids, even though the kids want to know about their heritage and do identify as Arab American Muslims.  She also lives with her grandma, her mom's mom, despite the fact that her mom has left them.  It never tells where she went or what happened, which I desperately wanted to know, but Cora doesn't miss her, because Cora doesn't remember her, and the family dynamic seemed to be working until Mabel is gunned down.  The loss of Mabel is palpable as Cora recalls that she will one day be older than her older sister, and refuses to pack up or touch anything on her side of the room.  Cora is in counseling and seems to have a supportive network of friends in her Junior Quiz bowl team, but she misses Quinn even though she can't forgive her.

Quinn's chapters begin with a small letter to her brother Parker: what she wants to say, what she feels, questions, memories, anger, disappointment, despair.  They are short, but haunting and heartbreaking. Quinn's home life is fraught with guilt and blame.  Her mother has quit work and her father is always working.  Her parents fight, a lot.  Her mom blames her dad for owning the guns, her dad wants to move to give them all a fresh start, it isn't pretty.  Quinn often has a hard time getting her words out at the speed she wants, she calls it freezing.  As a kid, Cora would help, but without Cora and with no one in the house willing or ready to listen to Quinn, Quinn is often left alone.  At school Quinn is largely ignored as no one wants to be around the sister of the mass shooter, so she doesn't try out for soccer, she has no friends, and no one to talk to get the help she so desperately needs.

Quinn has an idea about how to fix everything, and that is what is in the box.  She is convinced that if she can go back in time, she can make everything right.  The only problem is, she doesn't understand all the science and needs Cora's help.  Together the two girls work to figure out a way to find a wormhole and fix the damage that occurred.  Along the way the girls realize how much they need each other to heal, and the role forgiving yourself has in the process as well.

WHY I LIKE IT:
I am shocked at how deftly the book talks about a school shooting without talking about a school shooting.  It is how the families feel in the day to day acts that follow a year later and how the girls are trying to carry on with the limited tools that exist for individuals dealing with the aftermath of such an act of terror.  It doesn't go in to the 2nd Amendment rights or detail the lack of legislation to curb such acts, it really stays on the two girls.  The hope of finding a wormhole is really farfetched and perhaps unrealistic, but they are so desperate to believe, to find a way to make things right, that you hope for their sake that they are successful. 

It is amazing to see from the sister of a shooter the isolation and pain she endures.  I don't know that I've really ever considered the larger families of the shooter when your heart is so devastated for the families of the victims.  Occasionally you hear about the parents, but what about the siblings, cousins, distant relatives?

I desperately wanted to know where Cora and Mabel's mom went.  I was tempted to contact the author since it really was gnawing at me. I also wanted some answers as to why Parker did what he did, what hate he was spewing online, what were the signs, did he single out Mabel for being Muslim, while also appreciating that there is no satisfactory answers for any violence of this magnitude in fiction or real life.

Cora knows nothing of Islam and kind of wants to, I felt like this could have been explored a tiny bit more.  Not in that she has to be religious, but I feel like after such a life altering event such as death, religion and what happens when one dies usually comes up and a person decides they are satisfied with an answer or not.  The story isn't in the immediate aftermath of dealing with the shock, but rather is a little after the event to presumably not have to deal with the raw emotion, and can focus on the pain and strength that comes with finding a new normal.  I'd like to imagine at some point perhaps Cora and her dad talked about what happens after death, but the text doesn't suggest that it was an issue of concern.  She does wonder if Mabel was killed for being Muslim and asks Quinn about it.  Quinn never defends or justifies what her brother does, nor does she pretend to know, she is grieving too.  She is irritated that people try and define her religiosity to make themselves feel better and she does say the family occasionally fasts, makes duas, and they always celebrate Eid.

She talks a bit more about wanting to know more Arabic, saying that if you are 50% Arab you should at least know 50 words, and she only knows five.  She wants to hear about her father's life growing up, and know that side of her.  It mentions that he wanted her to feel like she belonged in America, but I'd love to know more.  Maybe what happened to his family, what brought him to America, why they opted not to give them more cultural names, etc..

I also enjoyed the slight science thread.  It seems the author used to teach science and I love that the scientific method and various random facts find their way into the story.

POSSIBLE FLAGS:

The book talks about death, killing, suicide, and gun violence, but doesn't relive the chain of events or detail what happened exactly.  Quinn and another friend have crushes on boys in their class.  There is a Fall Festival that the kids dress up for, but it isn't called Halloween, and there is no mention of it.  The book opens with Quinn's birthday.  

TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:

I would definitely read this as a middle school book club selection.  It is engaging and gripping and a great book to have as an introduction to hard conversations with children.  The author has a note at the beginning about her own children doing active shooter drills and having to face this real fear, and I think kids talking about it through fiction is a powerful tool to get them thinking and talking.
Was this review helpful?
“ I think the answer lies in figuring out the shape of time. And the shape of time is probably like the shape of thunder. We think it’s impossible to map, but that’s because we haven’t pushed our brains to think that way.”
⛈ 
Cora hasn’t spoken to her ex-best friend, Quinn in ten months. Quinn’s brother murdered Cora’s older sister in a school shooting on November 11, but on Cora’s birthday Quinn leaves a box on her porch. This box is the catalyst that starts with the two girls trying to find a wormhole so they can time travel and fix what happened that day. But throughout the process they remember what it’s like to love one another as well.
⛈ 
This middle grade novel wrecked me from just the synopsis. After reading Other Words For Home I knew this book would tear me up and I was right. Warga does an amazing job of discussing race, culture, gun control, racism all while putting it on a middle grade level. This book reminded me of Wishtree by Katherine Applegate and I highly recommend it for an all-class novel study for 4th grade and up when it releases on May 11. Thank you Netgalley for this ARC. The Shape of Thunder is in a class of its own. I’m adding one more quote that stuck out at me below.
⛈
“It’s also messed up when white boys like Parker commit a violent crime, everyone tries to figure out why they did it. Me included. But when a black or brown kid does something like that, no one asks more questions. It’s like they expected it of them or something. That makes me really mad.”
Was this review helpful?
This was a heartbreaking, yet much needed middle grade book. An alternating point of view of Cora and Quinn, whom both are faced with guilt for different reasons. Both have lost a sibling due to a school shooting, one sibling is a victim and one sibling is the one who pulled the trigger. This kind of grief makes it hard to make a connection again. The guilt and pain that is hanging on both of their shoulders is real. Warga takes such an emotional experience and makes in accessible and REAL for young readers. It will definitely spark some discussion and will leave the reader in wonder.
Was this review helpful?
The Shape of Thunder is a beautiful story of friendship, forgiveness, and moving forward, and Jasmine Warga has an incredible way of telling stories around relevant topics. Cora and Quinn have both suffered the loss of a sibling, however, one is at the hand of the other's.  Chapters go back and forth between both girls' perspectives so the reader feels for both of them. I loved the letters Quinn writes to her brother at the start of each of her chapters.
Was this review helpful?
Warga handles a timely and important topic with grace and sensitivity. The Shape of Thunder will provide a starting point for many crucial conversations with young readers regarding responsibility, grief, and acceptance. Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?