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Updated: June 13, 2013 13:17 IST

Not your usual teen fiction

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Karma: A Novel in Verse by Cathy Ostlere
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Karma: A Novel in Verse by Cathy Ostlere

A gripping emotional tale of a teenager trying to find her voice in conflict-ridden circumstances...

Karma, the new novel by Canadian author Cathy Ostere, is a story is about Maya — a teenager who arrives in India in 1984 under unexpected circumstances and loses her father in the anti-Sikh riots that ensue soon afterwards.

The violence she witnesses leads to severe emotional trauma. However, in a desert town of Rajasthan, a family gives her shelter and try to initiate her into a new way of life. As she recedes into mute detachment, the intrigue and sensation she invites from the townsfolk grows. She finds a friend and empathiser in Sandeep, the young boy of miracles. Their company and interaction lead her through a struggle of reclaiming her life and her voice, helping her to escape cruel twists of fate and find her bearings again.

Emotional transition

The story unfolds through a series of diary entries, which become the mode of communication of the two young protagonists. Instead of the standard narrative style, the writer has chosen monologues to weave together the fascination of Maya with her mother’s saris and her haunting music. Stories of the young girl’s first encounters with tragedy, trauma, forgiveness, acceptance and love are revealed gradually during her journey through Canada, Delhi and Rajasthan, while also taking one through the emotional journey of Sandeep, who becomes her friend, guide and confidant.

The book has a simple, yet fresh portrayal of how a youngster views and deals with cultural conflicts, extreme circumstances and the grappling of complex emotions while growing up. In setting the young feelings against the backdrop of trying circumstances, the book has broken away from the traditional style of most of teen fiction and makes for an interesting weekend read.

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