Karma by Cathy Ostlere, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Karma

Karma

4.2 5
by Cathy Ostlere
     
 

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It is 1984, and fifteen-year-old Maya is on her way to India with her father. She carries with her the ashes of her mother, who recently committed suicide, and arrives in Delhi on the eve of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination.

Maya is separated from her father and must rely upon the mysterious, kindhearted Sandeep to safely reunite them. As her love

Overview

It is 1984, and fifteen-year-old Maya is on her way to India with her father. She carries with her the ashes of her mother, who recently committed suicide, and arrives in Delhi on the eve of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination.

Maya is separated from her father and must rely upon the mysterious, kindhearted Sandeep to safely reunite them. As her love for Sandeep begins to blossom, Maya must face the truth about her painful adolescence...if she's ever to imagine her future.

Editorial Reviews

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.)
VOYA - Lona Trulove
Karma is a unique novel written in verse. Maya, a young half Hindu, half Sikh girl, travels to India with her father after a tragedy in her family. Reeling from this event, Maya steps off the plane only to discover that Indira Ghandi, prime minister of India, has just been gunned down. The city of New Delhi is overcome with chaos and violence. Unfortunately, Maya and her father are separated, and Maya begins an amazing and dangerous journey of survival and self-discovery. She finds herself in dangerous situations and sees horrific displays of violence. Maya is overcome with sadness and fear because of all she has been through, so she stops speaking. Fortunately she is befriended by a female doctor and her family. Only with the help of their son and her diary does Maya find her voice, open her heart, and understand not only her family and her religion but also herself. This is wonderful historical fiction. Ostlere does a terrific job of transporting the reader to India, recreating this turbulent time in its history and adding to the mystic by writing the story in verse. It is made all the better because of the tender romance that entwines the story. This is a perfect novel for young adolescent girls who want to be swept away to a different time and place. Reviewer: Lona Trulove
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—This epic tale unfolds through the pages of alternating diaries from October 28th through December 16th, 1984. Yet countless layers peel off with the turn of each page, leading readers deeper into the rich and sometimes tortured history beneath the tale's present. Fifteen-year-old Maya, half Hindu/half Sikh, has lived her entire life in rural Canada. Her family's religion and ethnicity set them apart from their community, but also from one another. Maya's name itself signifies the tension between her parents, lovers who forsook their families for each other, but who have lived in different states of mourning and regret since. Her given name is Jiva or "life," yet her mother blasphemously calls her Maya or "illusion," an insult to her Sikh father. Thus, when life and loss lead Maya and Bapu back to India at the time of Indira Gandhi's assassination, they are plunged deep into a nation in bloody turmoil. Maya's sense of otherness escalates dramatically as she is forced to consider it on a personal and near-universal scale. The middle diary belongs to that of Sandeep, with whom Maya experiences love, tragedy, ancestry, and loyalty at an intimate (yet physically innocent) level. The novel's pace and tension will compel readers to read at a gallop, but then stop again and again to turn a finely crafted phrase, whether to appreciate the richness of the language and imagery or to reconsider the layers beneath a thought. This is a book in which readers will consider the roots and realities of destiny and chance. Karma is a spectacular, sophisticated tale that will stick with readers long after they're done considering its last lines.—Jill Heritage Maza, Greenwich High School, CT
Kirkus Reviews - Kikus Reviews

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)

Kirkus Reviews

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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595143846
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
01/05/2012
Pages:
544
Sales rank:
1,215,371
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Cathy Ostlere (www.cathyostlere.com) is the author of Lost: A Memoir, which was short-listed for the 2009 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction. She lives in Calgary, Alberta. Karma is her first novel for young adults.

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Karma 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Marcie77 More than 1 year ago
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.
Nikkayme More than 1 year ago
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. 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. This is a story about surviving. It's about living through the hardest of circumstances and suffering the most terrible losses, but seeing the hope that still lingers and the goodness that others can still offer. Ostlere shows the reader a world of hatred and cruelty, but ultimately tells us that all is not lost and even though human kind is capable of a great many terrible things, we are also capable of a love like no other.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a great book to read and a truly wonderful love story <3!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love books in verse like this because it's easy to read and a fast read so you can read another book real fast an at school i'm doing a reading log where you read 30 minutes every night and do a 2-3 word sentence about it and how many pages you read to what page and it's really boring
Payton Gallant More than 1 year ago
THIS BOOK DEOSN'T EVEN DESERVE ONE STAR, THE ONLY REASON I PUT ONE STAR WAS BEACUSE IT WOULDNT LET ME PUT ZERO STARS! THIS IS A ZERO STAR BOOK!