Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: Karma by Cathy Ostlere

Published: Razorbill (March 31, 2011)
Pages: 528
Format: Hardcover
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher
GoodReads Summary: On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi is gunned down by two Sikh bodyguards. The murder sparks riots in Delhi and for three days Sikh families are targeted and killed in retribution for the Prime Minister’s death. It is into this chaos that sixteen-year-old Maya and her Sikh father, Amar, arrive from their home in Canada. India’s political instability is the backdrop and catalyst for Maya’s awakening to the world. KARMA is the story of how a young woman, straddling two cultures and enduring personal loss, learns forgiveness, acceptance and love.

My Thoughts: I know nothing of history. Not of US history. Not of world history. I don't take much of an interest in it, either.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself looking up the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the Sikhs on Wikipedia in order to further educate myself on the subject matter within Karma. This book blew my freaking mind. Told entirely in verse, we're given Maya's point of view first, followed by Sandeep's, then finally Maya's again. I've never read a book in verse before, but WOW. Less is more, when it comes to Maya and Sandeep's story. I don't think the grief, fear, and loss could've been better communicated if it were written conventionally.

Maya is half-Hindu, half-Sikh. Her tale is painful from the get go and I can't imagine anyone keeping their sanity after experiencing all that she did following Indira Gandhi's assassination and the persecution of the Sikh people. Fearing her own death, Maya has to conceal her beliefs in order to stay alive.

Experiencing Maya's pain was heartbreaking, but OH, SANDEEP! You glimmer of hope, you. These two are rewarded after all of their hardships with a totally squealworthy love story. Slow-building, cautious, and moving, their romance is told from both sides. Have I ever mentioned how much I love this? To have a fully rounded idea of their respective feelings for one another? SO FULL OF WIN. The ending was bittersweet and emotional, for me. But emotional reads are where my heart belongs, even if there's not a perfect bow. (I never liked bows, anyway.)

This book is perfectly written, evocative, emotional, and will totally make a historical fiction fan out of those of us who typically couldn't care less. Cathy Ostlere has made a fan out of me. And this will DEFINITELY not be my last book told in verse.


  1. "SO FULL OF WIN."

    Lol. We completely agree on emotional reads, with or without bows.

    Gah, this is like the second or third glowing review of Karma that we've read, and now we're dying to check it out ourselves! Thanks for the write-up!

  2. I don't know a thing about history either but I'm glad that you were able to still love the book! And it being written in verse makes it all the more intriguing!

  3. I just added this to my TBR list--sounds great! And I love history lol

    Also, you've never read a book in verse before? DUDE. You need to read one of Lisa Schroeder's books. I think THE DAY BEFORE is on S&S Galley Grab. I LOVE her books. All of them.

  4. I was TOTALLY into it until you said "told entirely in verse"... that makes me nervous, which is probably why I've never read one before. Wonder if this should be the one to try out... I AM a bit of a history nerd... Hmm.

  5. I just added this to my TBR stack. It sounds amazing. I am a completely history nerd. I love it. The fact that it got you into it and using wikipedia for more info makes me really happy. I NEED to read this book now.

  6. I always thought this was a strange combination - history and verse, but your review made it sound really interesting! Great review

  7. I am not sure that I have seen this one before. You have convinced me that I need to read it though! It sounds really really good!

  8. Wow, I've never heard of anything like this before. My curiosity's piqued. I find myself itching to look up the Indira Ghandi's assassination, too. And it's historical fiction? DEFINITELY full of win. :)

  9. Yes! Amazing review! I remember talking about this with you on Twitter! And, I love me some verse novels so I will definitely have to get my hands on a copy of this one!