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October 2017: Society > Karma / Cathy Ostlere - 3***

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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5180 comments Karma by Cathy Ostlere
Karma – Cathy Ostlere

Maya and her father are going from Canada to New Dehli to spread her mother’s ashes. They arrive, however, on the same day as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two of her guards. Maya and her father are separated in the riots that ensue, and she must disguise herself and ultimately rely on Sandeep, a boy she’s just met, to keep her safe and see that she gets home.

This young adult novel is told entirely in verse, making for a very fast read. It includes some pretty serious matter, however: religious strife between Sikhs and Hindus, civil and political unrest in India, moral courage, religious differences, and the treatment of women. Central to the plot is the differences between generations and the ability of parent and child to truly see one another’s point of view, and to forgive their differences. Also, one’s own capacity to forgive oneself for past mistakes.

Maya is a strong female lead, despite the trauma she’s faced and her withdrawal into herself. Somehow, she comes across as resilient, resourceful and tenacious, even when paralyzed by fear or indecision. Sandeep is a steadfast and courageous friend; having suffered his own tragedy early in life, he’s determined to help Maya find her way. The differences in their religions and socio-economic status will not deter him.

I’m a little concerned by the ending. I’m not at all sure that Maya will be safe in the future, but I applaud Ostlere for *not* giving us a happy ending, tied up in a pretty bow.

LINK to my review

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