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Karma Hardcover – March 31, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 400L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Razorbill (March 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595143386
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595143389
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,452,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This epic novel, written in free verse poems in a diary format, straddles two countries and the clash of Indian cultures in the tale of 15-year-old Maya. Raised in Canada, Maya is the product of a marriage between her Hindu mother and Sikh father, a union that upset both families. Her 1984 trip to India with her father, after her mother's suicide, thrusts her life into further chaos when her father disappears during riots that follow Indira Gandhi's assassination. In her first YA novel, Ostlere (Lost: A Memoir) makes Maya's subsequent muteness believable in the wake of the many traumas she endures. Burdened with guilt over her parents' fate, as well as that of a Sikh man burned alive in front of her, she asks, "Is my silence unfounded too?/ No. I do not deserve to be found./ Or loved." A family in a desert town takes Maya in, and 17-year-old Sandeep (who contributes kinetic, lovestruck journal entries) takes special interest in her. In contrast to the hatred, mistrust, and violence, the friendship--and then love--between Maya and Sandeep offers hope, rebirth, and renewal. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* After her Hindu mother�s suicide, 15-year-old Maya and her Sikh father travel from Canada to India for a traditional burial. The year is 1984, and on the night of their arrival in New Delhi, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by her Sikh guards. When the city erupts in chaos, both Maya and her father find themselves in great danger. Through a sequence of horrifying events, father and daughter are separated, and Maya is left alone in a violent foreign country where she must rely on the help of strangers to reach safety. In her YA debut, acclaimed adult author Ostlere offers a riveting, historically accurate coming-of-age tale of gutsy survival, self-sacrifice, and love. Set during a six-week period, the novel in verse makes the most of its lyrical form with lines of dialogue that bounce back and forth in columns across the page and singularly beautiful metaphors and similes that convey potent detail and emotion. With artful compassion, Ostlere reveals the infinitely complex clash of cultures within both India and Maya�s family, and although the allusions to karma could have seemed awkward in less talented hands, here they lead into well-framed larger questions that will stay with readers. A fascinating, epic page-turner. Grades 9-12. --Frances Bradburn

More About the Author

Cathy Ostlere grew up in a Canadian Air Force family with two brothers and a sister. She recalls a childhood of making up stories while staring out the car window on long drives across the country. Her first book, LOST: A MEMOIR (2008), began as a series of poems and essays. Her writing has been short-listed for the National Magazine Awards, Western Magazine Awards, and the CBC Literary Awards. LOST: A MEMOIR was a finalist for the 2009 Edna Staebler Creative Non-fiction Award. In 2010, LOST: A MEMOIR was developed into a 90 minute one-woman play that has been touring Canada and the U.S. Her first YA novel, KARMA: a novel in verse, was released in 2011 by Penguin/Razorbill.

Awards for KARMA -- South Asia Book Award (SABA), Highly Commended Book, 2012; BOOKLIST, Editor's Choice, Best Books for Young Adults, 2012; Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award, Honour Book, 2012; YALSA, Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012; Alberta Literary Awards Winner - R. Ross Annett Children's Award, 2012; City of Calgary, W.O. Mitchell Award, shortlist, 2012; Ontario Library Association Best Bets List, Honourable Mention, 2012


Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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In a way Sandeep and Maya's stories are similar.
Marcella
From Maya's sadness, to her fear; her surrender, to her survival; to Sandeep's courage, compassion and love; each poem leaves the reader with a message.
Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books)
Definitely recommend for readers who savor historical fiction and YA verse novels.
Milw. Writer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) on May 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Karma is a story that should be read; Not only for its subject matter - a massacre in India that I never knew happened - but for its beauty. Cathy Ostlere tells the story through diary entries and imbues her words with more emotion than I could have ever imagined. A mere 10 pages in and I was teary-eyed and connected to 15 year old Maya. I felt the loss of her mother like a weight in the pit of my stomach. Small details, like the way Maya's father clutches her mother's urn, speak volumes. Details like that litter the pages of this verse novel.

Maya's journey to a country she barely knows, let alone understands, is jarring. Each of her emotions jumps off the page in flowing, vivid verse. Historical events are weaved flawlessly into story, making everything even more tense. The half of the book from Sandeep's POV is just as well-written as Maya's half. His emotions, though much more sarcastic, are as raw and honest. Each of them has their own story to tell, they just happen to come together.

Ostlere gives the reader a view into the life of a girl torn between two worlds and two religions. Hindu and Sikh people war against one another and Maya feels caught in the middle, part of each, but never really comfortable with either. I was drawn in by the massacre - and it is a massacre, with violence and death - and couldn't help but continue to turn the pages. Maya and Sandeep still linger in my mind. As does the message the book sends. Despite the difficult subject matter, Karma is an addicting read. A quick one too. The ARC tops out at 521 pages, but I read it in day, unable to put it down.

Karma is part historical fiction, part coming-of-age, but 100% heartfelt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donna G on July 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
Somewhere along the way in my YA readership experience, I decided that I "didn't like" verse novels. To be fair, that may have been in high school, after I was assigned to read a really depressing, slow-moving, and semi-boring verse novel, and I decided that ALL verse novels must be depressing, slow-moving, and semi-boring.

Forgive my ignorance.
I've been converted.

KARMA just didn't let me go. I was unfamiliar with the backstory ---- 1984 India, and the riots and political instability after Indira Gandhi's assassination ---- but what drew me in were the characters and the writing.

Ostlere's words just flow along the page (The imagery! The lyricism! The emotion! The gorgeous, gorgeous details!), and free verse was the perfect choice to highlight the urgency of the story. It's by no means a short book, but I flew through the pages, mesmerized by Maya's journey.

I love Maya. She's multicultural ---- of Indian heritage, born and raised in Canada, half-Hindu and half-Sikh ---- but she's a multidimensional, fully realized 15-year-old girl whose multiculturalism is just a part of who she is. She has crushes on boys, she's betrayed by her best friend, she wrestles with her parents' expectations, and she struggles to discover who she is in a ridiculously confusing and contradictory world. I connected with her immediately.

Her mother commits suicide, and she must bring her ashes to India with her grieving father. And then riots break out, and she's separated from her father in a foreign, dangerous place. Her traumas have only just begun.

Then we meet Sandeep, the other narrator, who speaks when Maya can't. I love Sandeep. He's impulsive and funny, charming, loyal, and desperate to prove himself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marcella on April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Karma is defined as action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in reincarnation. This is the main theme woven throughout this novel. The main part of this story takes place during the riots that broke out after Indria Gahndi is gunned down in 1984. Maya is the main character in this novel. She writes down the unfolding of these horrific events in her diary. The riots are between the Hindus and Sikh. The turmoil between these two religious groups results in bloodshed and senseless killings. The background controversy in this story is significant because it's also an internal conflict raging inside Maya. Her father is Hindu and her mother is Sikh. Her parents love each other but cannot escape their difference in beliefs. Maya feels torn between them. She doesn't quite fit in anywhere. Maya's character is very interesting. She starts out as an average teenage girl. Maya's world is thrown into turmoil and she must overcome heart wrenching obstacles to find her way. Her journey into India is one of self discovery and forgiveness. Maya has to choose her path or it will be chosen for her. When Maya looses her voice her story is told through the eyes of Sandeep. Sandeep watches over Maya as a favor to his sister. He is intrigued and enthralled by Maya. His sister thinks that Sandeep can be the one person who can lure Maya from her internal prison. In a way Sandeep and Maya's stories are similar. They are both trying to find out where they belong. I liked Sandeep's character a lot. He's is funny and charming. I really enjoyed reading about him.
Overall I thought this story was fantastic. Even though this book is over 500 pages it's very fast paced. It only took me a few days to read it. Cathy Ostlere did a great job with this novel. I experienced a lot of emotions while reading Kharma. It's funny how a few words can say so much sometimes. This novel is written in beautifully constructed verse. It is a must read.
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