Karma, by Cathy Ostlere (fiction) – lost in her parents’ India during civil war

World Wednesday takes us from the prairies of Canada to the crowded streets of India as Maya travels to her parents’ homeland on a grief-stricken mission.

Instead of learning more about her Sikh and Hindu heritage or meeting family for the first time, she’s flung into the chaos, violence, and massacre that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984.

Look for this stunning verse novel at your local library or independent bookstore – you need to hear Maya’s story for yourself.

Book info: Karma / Cathy Ostlere. Razorbill, 2011, paperback 2012. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: At 15, Maya is taking her mother’s ashes home to India, back to the grandparents she’s never met, traveling with her father in 1984, far from Canada where she was born.

Unheard-of for a Sikh and a Hindu to marry in India of the 1960s! Disowned by her family, his family warning of spiritual disaster, Maya’s parents emigrate to Manitoba, where Bapu hopes to be successful and Mata prays for children and peace.

The aloneness that the prairie winds swirled around her mother finds Maya in the crowded streets of poverty-stricken New Delhi, as she tries to make sense of everything in her journal, her diary in verse.
Suddenly, India’s Prime Minister is assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards, and Hindus begin killing Sikhs in revenge. Bapu disguises himself and leaves Maya at their hotel while he tries to find a safe way for them to get to his hometown.

When rioters set fire to the hotel, Maya flees blindly into a city filled with mayhem, heading to the train station to go – anywhere. An accident, an attack, a fright, amnesia, a lost girl… Others continue telling Maya’s story when her own voice is no longer sufficient, as she journeys and drifts in confusion.

Can she find her voice again? Can she find her father? Did he really plan for her to marry someone here in India? How can she keep going, knowing that she left Mata’s ashes behind? This powerful novel in verse takes mature readers to a far land in a time not so distant, when civil war almost fractured India and its horrors threatened a young girl’s hold on reality. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

6 thoughts on “Karma, by Cathy Ostlere (fiction) – lost in her parents’ India during civil war

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