Twelve-year-old Katelyn Medena, a white Canadian, is haunted by a Sikh girl named Akasha who lived a century ago.
The visions having led to a diagnosis of mental illness, Katelyn finds herself in a group home for troubled girls. In blackouts, Katelyn is possessed by the mysterious Akasha, whose letters she finds in her journal. They chronicle Akasha’s flight from India as a stowaway on a ship, hidden by Sanjay, her sweetheart. Because she is Sikh and he is Hindi, the partnership is forbidden. Their plan is disrupted when they are separated, and Akasha is tricked into a Vancouver brothel. On the other end of time, Katelyn investigates. Though this story is based on the real-life Komagata Maru, a Japanese ship full of Indian passengers that attempted to dock in British Columbia in 1914, the narrative is lost in the contrived psychic connection between a 12-year-old white girl and a young Indian stowaway. Katelyn’s modern-day Indian friends serve as what feels like a token backdrop, their presence in the story a matter of cultural convenience, while Akasha’s historical struggle is seen through the eyes of the white main character. Also problematic in this strange, slow-moving tale is the plot-driven convenience with which Katelyn’s underage, mentally unstable peers, who are supposed to be in supervised residential treatment, roam the city of Vancouver with any companion over 15.
A culturally confusing fictional tale that undermines the real-life tragedy of the Indians aboard the Komagata Maru. (Historical fiction. 10-14)