- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 and up
- Lexile Measure: HL400L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 528 pages
- Publisher: Razorbill (March 31, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1595143386
- ISBN-13: 978-1595143389
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.7 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,407,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Karma Hardcover – March 31, 2011
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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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*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
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Top Customer Reviews
I do feel the main character acts/speaks a little older than her age at times, she was raised differently than I and then goes through this horrid experience, so I can look past such a thing.
I hope the lack of reviews does not mirror how this book as sold, because it deserves to be read and shared with others. Pick it up. You won't be disappointed.
Night of the Widows
All Indian Justice Committee (Volume 3)
When a Tree Shook Delhi: The 1984 Carnage and its Aftermath
A Feast for Lambs
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. His family dynamics leap off the page, and his parts of the dual narration expose another layer of Indian culture and tradition, giving the reader a nuanced view of life in India during such a bloody, complicated, and divided time in its history.
Ostlere paints a vivid portrait of Maya and Sandeep's struggle to reunite Maya with her father and the development of their tentative love for one another in the midst of turmoil.
Do yourself a favor, and read this gorgeous, epic novel.
* This review posted originally at [...]