readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rgz Salon: Karma, by Cathy Ostlere, Reviewed by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Rgz SALON member Lyn Miller-Lachmann has been the Editor-in-Chief of MultiCultural Review; the author of the award-winning multicultural bibliography Our Family, Our Friends, Our World; the editor of Once Upon a Cuento, a collection of short stories by Latino authors; and most recently, the author of Gringolandia, a young adult novel about a refugee family living with the aftermath of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. The book has had multiple print runs and is available for order. (Don't forget to read the fascinating Cover Story for Gringolandia.)

We're honored to have Lyn here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Today, she reviews Karma by Cathy Ostlere (Razorbill):

"Stories of couples brought together by love but threatened by their families’ enmities existed even before Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet and continue to enthrall readers today. One of the most compelling that I have read recently is Cathy Ostlere’s Karma, a novel in verse set in India in 1984, in the days following Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination at the hands of her Sikh guards. Following her mother’s suicide, 15-year-old Jiva travels with her father to India to deliver her mother’s ashes to their proper resting place. Jiva’s mother was Hindu, and her father is Sikh. Their religious differences forced them into exile in Canada, cut off from their families; the experience of exile, their neighbors’ prejudice, and the bleakness of their surroundings contributed to the mother’s depression and death. Jiva and her father return to New Delhi on the eve of the assassination. In the massacre of thousands of Sikhs afterward, they are separated. Using the name Maya—her mother’s name for her—Jiva ends up hundreds of miles away, saved by 17-year-old Sandeep who has his own story of separation from family and adoption into a foreign culture.

"Ostlere’s characters are multi-dimensional and complex—parents as well as teens—making this a novel that readers of all ages will appreciate. The unlikely relationship between Jiva’s mother and father leads to her family’s exile and mother’s despair, but it doesn’t deter the teenager from falling in love with someone from a different culture herself. Like many idealistic young people, she seeks to find a way to overcome hatred and suspicion, to forgive what has been done to her, and to choose love and hope over everything else. As she writes in her diary, 'The young are told to wait for emotions to catch up to the flesh but what if the moment is now? / Our yearnings ready to set us free from sorrow and fear? / And besides, who will show the world the possibility of love, if it isn’t us?'” -Lyn Miller-Lachmann


Edi said...

I regret that my library copy of this book has the plain pink cover. I like this one so much more!

I love Lyn's reviews! The prepare to to look a little deeper into a book as this one certainly does for Karma. I hope to read it sooner that later!


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