Set in Canada and India in 1984, Karma by Cathy Ostlere is a story very much grounded in time and place. Maya, an immigrant child from India, lives in Canada with her parents on the windswept plains of Manitoba. Her mother, a Hindu, is very unhappy and lonely. Her father, a Sikh, refuses her a visit home to India because of the expense. Maya knows of her mother's deepening depression but cannot save her from committing suicide. Maya and her father return to India, with her mother's ashes, on October 31, 1984. It is the day that Indira Gandhi is shot and all "hell" breaks out around the country as Hindu's seek retribution for her murder against all Sikhs. Traumatized and separated from her father, Maya ends up with Sandeep's family. A sweet relationship develops between the two teens even as the country simmers and the village gossips.
The book is written in verse, which adds a sense of beauty to the story (and makes the 500+ pages much less scary.). When asked why she wrote the book in verse Ostlere replied: "The best answer I have to this question is that Karma’s poetic form suits the emotional lives of Maya and Sandeep. Their feelings are intense, their insights into the world are sharp and critical, and their understanding of what it means to be human is fresh, ragged, not yet smoothed by maturity, not yet smoothed by conventional narrative. Poetry is the perfect medium for their age."
Here's an excerpt from Karma :
A brand-new diaryI really like Karma. I like reading books about historical events and in settings where I have never been. The poetry of the book is magical and lyrical, almost transporting me to India where I could experience the sites and sounds myself. My one problem with the book is the cover. What's with all that pink? Didn't the publisher think that one single guy would want to read this book? I guess not, with such a pink cover. Yes, the book will likely be more attractive to female readers but the storyline is interesting enough and there is enough action to hold the attention of most male readers, too. I hope you can ignore the pink, the book is definitely worth it. And I recommend that you visit Cathy Ostlere's homepage, too. It is very informative about why she wrote the book Karma set in India.
How to begin.
How. To. Begin.
Click. Click. Click.
I like the sound of a ballpoint pen.
Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.
I’ll start with the date:
October 27, 1984.
Now the place:
Floating in air over ice.
Thirty-seven thousand feet, the pilot said.
But where exactly?
What latitude and longitude?
Is it Canada or Greenland
that fell away like a great sinking heart?
Is that a rising sun or a setting one?
The golden rays cut loose from India’s plains.
Where am I really?
Nowhere, I guess.
Somewhere between an old life and a new.