The Shape of Thunder | Sticky Note Reviews

Time travel makes life right again.

Six Word Summary

Look at me, reading another book on my Winter TBR list. I’m feeling rather accomplished, even though I’ve only managed to get through two. To be fair, my library doesn’t have many on audio. And I listen during my commute.

Imagine that your best friend lived next door. Imagine that your best friend’s brother found the dark side of the internet, firearms, and did the unthinkable. Also imagine how that might make the lives of a few pre-teen girls a little complicated.

Cora and Quinn were best friends until Quinn’s brother killed Cora’s sister. They haven’t spoken in a year, but Quinn is convinced that if they can just figure out time travel, everything will be alright again. Cora, ever the scientist, wants to believe that time travel is possible. And maybe time travel is what they need to repair their relationship.

And the sticky note says…

Grief and guilt are both incredibly powerful feelings. Both Cora and her (not so) best friend are both driven and crippled by them — Cora because her sister was killed and Quinn because her brother did the killing. Quinn, convinced everything will be better if she can somehow fix it, devises a plan to go back in time and stop her brother.

The friendship between Quinn and Cora, and their relationships with their respective families at the anniversary of tragedy are at the center of the narrative. It’s complicated and messy. It talks about (and doesn’t talk about) consequences of hatred, racism, and access to firearms.

And Warga trusts middle grade readers to grapple with real life.

More Sticky Note Reviews

One thing I thought about as I was reading that didn’t make it into the sticky note was just how differently the two sets of parents processed their grief and guilt. I’d say neither were perfect, but how can expression of grief and/or guilt be perfect?

It really brought to light for me, as an adult reader who has worked with children, the internalized idea that as the adult, I have to put my feelings aside and attend to the feelings of the young people I’m around. And I remember doing that when I was in the classroom. There has to be a balance somewhere that allows for both the adult and the child to express and process their feelings, especially as it relates to the loss of a child.

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