Published: Razorbill (March 31, 2011)
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.