KARMA by Cathy Ostlere


Age Range: 15 & up
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Canadian author Ostlere’s first novel in verse sweeps across North American and the Indian subcontinent with a force so violent and life altering one might mistake the teen protagonists caught in the vortex of large-scale religious strife and local isolation as slightly sanitized transplants from The Thorn Birds. During the course of about six weeks in late 1984, 15-year-old Maya returns from school in her remote town near Winnipeg to find that her Hindu mother, overwrought by unbearable loneliness, has hanged herself. Maya’s father, a Sikh, then decides to travel with Maya and his wife’s ashes back to India, from which they had emigrated shortly before Maya’s birth because their families would not accept the union of Hindu and Sikh. While in India, Indira Gandhi’s assassination at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards sparks a gruesome religious massacre that separates Maya from her father and threatens to orphan her. The narrative, which, to that point, had consisted of Maya’s verse diary entries, switches to that of the kind boy, Sandeep, who—in a mere month, mind you—helps Maya emerge from her post-traumatic muteness, assisting her in finding her voice, her father and, surprise: true love. Brimming with mature themes, graphic violence and page-ripping twists of plot, this over-caffeinated loosely based historical saga is for sophisticated teens at best. (Fiction/poetry. 15 & up)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59514-338-9
Page count: 500pp
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2011


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