cover image The Shape of Thunder

The Shape of Thunder

Jasmine Warga. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0—06-295667-5

The longtime friendship of two 12-year-olds—Cora Hamed, who is of Lebanese descent, and Quinn McCauley, who is white—is shattered when Quinn’s older brother, having become immersed in white supremacy and misogyny, carries out a school shooting that results in his death and that of Cora’s older sister. Though the friends have been close since age two, Cora’s grief, explored in therapy, is layered with anger at Quinn over the events. Quinn, meanwhile, is knotted with guilt over her perceived failure to stop her sibling, conveyed through letters she writes to him. When Quinn, an artist who sometimes stutters, starts researching the possibilities of time travel for changing past occurrences, she clutches onto it as a way to “fix everything” and persuades science-minded Cora to join her. Short chapters alternate the girls’ voices, tracing each one’s struggles to accept her loss alongside the slow, one-step-forward, two-steps-back rebuilding of their bond. The story builds steadily toward a moving conclusion; Warga’s (Other Words for Home) lyrical language and credible rendering of both middle school life and of the tensions of two families coping differently with personal devastation make for a perceptive, sensitively told novel about the effects of gun violence. Ages 8–12. [em](May) [/em]