Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Book ~ "Karma" (2011) Cathy Ostlere

From Amazon ~ 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 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.

I was kind of leery when I read that this was written in "free verse poems" but I gave it a chance and I'm glad I did. Nothing rhymed (yay!) and basically it was short chunky paragraphs which I didn't notice after a while.

It was an interesting story that spans six weeks. When Maya's mother commits suicide, she and her dad take the ashes to India (they live in Canada). They get separated during the riots. The first part of the story is voiced by Maya, the next part is voiced by Sandeep and the last part is voiced by Maya and Sandeep.

I got caught up in the story and liked the characters. I've never experienced anything like Maya and Sandeep had and was hoping it would end well for them.

The book is over 400 pages which may sound daunting but the text mostly only covers the left half of the page.

Conversations are written with one person
talking on the left hand side...

... and the other person on the right.

I find it odd that this is considered a "young adult" book. Sandeep and Maya are about 30 years younger than me but I found it didn't read like a YA book. Though I was okay with it, some parents might not appreciate some of the language ("sh!t", the "F-bomb", A-hole, etc.) or actions (Sandeep talks about gettin' it on with girls).

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it if you are looking for a good story and a different format.


Feisty Crone said...

I'm intrigued! Thanks!

Tatiana said...

I'm intrigued too - sounds different and interesting.

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

Karma really does seem quite daunting, but is still a relatively fast read; at least it was for me. I found it did read like a YA though. It's definitely a little more graphic than other YA books, but given the subject matter, I think it fits well.

Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by Wicked Awesome Books!