The Shape of Thunder is a 3.5 rating instead of a three or four (I am not sure what I will put as my rating officially as I’m writing out a draft before posting). This is because I was looking for “something” that never came about in this Jasmine Warga middle grade reader (around ages 10 to 14, but younger (and older) could read).
The story alternates chapters with the two main characters, Cora and Quinn. They were best friends until “the event” and Cora decides to end their friendship. As the story unfolds, we learn that Quinn’s brother Patrick has committed a school shooting that leaves four (including himself) dead. One of the people is Cora’s sister, Mable. This leads to the two girls, in their own ways, to try and “fix” things. And when Quinn has an idea, the two decide to work together. In the middle of this, both girls try and live their “normal” lives, find out who they are. Cora is half-Arabic but knows little about this part of herself. She is smart and literal. She hates when people use the word “complicated” as there always must be an answer. Science is better than poetry. Words matter. And Quinn must learn who she is. Is she just Patrick’s sister. Or just the girl who has “brain freezes” and cannot speak, is not that good at school or is she more. And both girls never really talk about what happened (though Cora is seeing a therapist, she leaves things out), nor do their families, but each for different reasons.
The concept of trying to “fix a wrong” is relatable as is feeling of guilt. However, I never felt the concept of “ignoring the problem that created The Problem now leading to another problem” was completely fleshed out. Warga could have explored this area of the story a little bit more. However, that might be the point as it makes you the reader think more about the things presented. There is slightly rushed ending that was obvious to adult readers, that also felt a little too neat. Yet, it also seems mostly realistic for a story (in real life, I think things would not have worked out as nicely).
Warga wanted to create a story that is both contemporary but has a timeless feeling and that comes across. It is “comfortable” in the sense it is not “dark and deep” but is at the same time, thought provoking.