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“This layered, beautiful story is rich in language and emotion and has definitely found its own special place on my ‘keeper’s shelf…and I will read it again. There is much to savor in the articulate rendering of Maya’s life as it unfolds once she has landed in India. I loved the description of this new and unfamiliar country…with its sounds and smells. In that way, it reminded me of The Tiffin and its many clear images of India and its people.” Read the rest here.


“Maya’s adventures, and the stories of other characters adeptly woven into the plot, are entrancing. Details of city and desert fall in spare, short lines. Like magic, a rich story springs from the con-densed text, a tale full of the horror of burned bodies and a young girl growing up at breakneck speed in a world that is not her own and yet a world that is very much a part of her. A captivating read for ages 14 and up.” Read the rest here: thestarphoenix.com


From my Alma Mater: “Themes of religious and cultural conflict, caste discrimination, racism, mistreatment of women, political corruption, and abuses of human rights permeate this historically-based coming-of-age novel. The concept of Karma that both Hindus and Sikhs embrace flows throughout the narrative. Maya believes “kindness and/ generosity is the Karma we bring to/ other’s souls”, and she accepts love from Sandeep and offers forgiveness to her father. “I have seen things no child/ should see. I have seen adults make/ a hell of this world.” Maya concludes, “Who will show the world the possibility of love, if it isn’t us?” Read more here.


“Teens are hard sells when it comes to reading choices. Often they require escapism, high-octane action, or perfect romance in a compelling story. In Cathy Ostlere’s Karma: A Novel in Verse, young adult readers find ample amounts of all three. It is an intricate and powerful coming-of-age story set during one of modern India’s most turbulent times.” Read the rest here.


Karma seduced me from page one, but at this point in the story, I could barely breathe. Maya cuts her hair and dresses as a boy. It isn’t a good disguise and her risk of exposure as either a Sikh or an unaccompanied girl or a foreigner could mean death or worse. This novel will stay with you for a long time after you’ve finished it. A masterpiece.” Read Marsha Skrypuch’s review here.


“…Ostlere creates rich worlds for her characters to inhabit and for her readers to get swept away in.” Read the full review here.


“Impelled and compelled by this utterly engrossing novel’s form and its content, its readers are in for quite a ride.” Read the full review here.


Karma is one of five books featured in
Teen Novels for Readers of All Ages!

“Epic and almost surreal in scope…” check out the fantastic review here.

More Reviews for Karma


“…the novel in verse makes the most of its lyrical form with lines of dialogue that bounce back and forth in columns across the page and singularly beautiful metaphors and similes that convey potent detail and emotion…A fascinating, epic page-turner.”
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The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“…There are many layers in this skillfully crafted novel, and the verse is rich with depth and emotion…This is a beautiful and breathtaking glimpse into one girl’s tragedy and perseverance, and the achingly stirring images created by its verses will remain with the reader long after its final poem.”
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Georgia Straight

“…“Karma has not only highlighted an issue that calls for international attention, but also has a very secular message. The story ends with a positive note of human bonding, despite widespread hatred and violence.”
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National Public Radio

“…Epic and almost surreal in scope…”
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Publishers Weekly

“This epic novel, written in free verse poems in a diary format, straddles two countries and the clash of Indian cultures…In contrast to the hatred, mistrust, and violence, the friendship—and then love—between Maya and Sandeep offers hope, rebirth, and renewal.”
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School Library Journal

“…The novel’s pace and tension will compel readers to read at a gallop, but then stop again and again to turn a finely crafted phrase…Karma is a spectacular, sophisticated tale that will stick with readers long after they’re done considering its last lines.”
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VOYA Magazine

“…Ostlere does a terrific job of transporting the reader to India, recreating this turbulent time in its history, and adding to the mystic of this country…This is a perfect novel for young adolescent girls who want to be swept away to a different time and place.”
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Blog Reviews for Karma

A Lot of Loves

“I loved Karma by Cathy Ostlere. Loved. It. Love…the “best book I’ve read this year or last”. I mean that. What a joy it was to read this very unique, interesting, heart-rending, and heart-warming story.
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Biblio File

“…I love the language of this one. Many poems are told in two columns, to simulate dialogue or inner commentary on events. I also really like dual narrators. The poetry works in this one…”
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Book Nerd Blog

“…I love Cathy Ostlere’s writing style, I love this book and I wish it didn’t end.” Read the full review…

Charlotte’s Library

“…Hard questions are asked, and sad stories are told, and it is good and important that these things be done, and the stories not be forgotten, and that people think, and care, and try to do better. Ostlere has no easy answers, but the reader is left hopeful that healing is possible…”
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Chelmsford Public Library Teen Zone

“…Karma is a beautiful, haunting book that gives readers a clear glimpse into a particular moment in history while remaining true to the voice of its teen protagonists. I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, romance, novels in verse, and epic stories. I loved it!”
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The Concord Carlisle Young Adult Galley

“…The poems explore such a wide territory, providing achingly sad background information on Maya’s parents as well as relentless action scenes as Maya runs through the streets of New Delhi searching for her father. Recommended for anyone who likes to travel through reading and fans of epic love stories…”
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The Crazy Bookworm

“Karma was one of the most beautiful novels I have ever read…The words flowed flawlessly, jumping off the pages…Karma is one of those books that I would recommend to everyone.”
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Escape Through the Pages

“…Cathy Ostlere’s writing is very emotional and descriptive – something that I think helps the reader connect to Maya and Sandeep so well. For being a writing style and genre I don’t read very often, I loved Karma to pieces.”
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The Fourth Musketeer

“…Because of the suspense of the story line, you will want to hurry along to find out what happens, but don’t forget to take the time to admire Ostlere’s elegant poetry…” Read the full review…

Genrefluent’s Bistro Book Club

“…Throughout the book, elements of romance, historical fiction, and a coming-of-age story are all woven into this novel that tells its tale through angelic and detailed prose….Karma is a book that will weave you through a journey that moves and swells with emotion and philosophy.”
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Libris Notes

“…Cathy Ostlere really captured the terror and chaos of this period in India immediately after Gandhi’s assassination…The fear Jiva and her father would have felt was brilliantly portrayed in Ostlere’s free verse…it’s certainly for those who love reading historical fiction, free verse and are avid readers.”
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MakeShift Bookmark

“This book blew my freaking mind…is perfectly written, evocative, emotional, and will totally make a historical fiction fan out of those of us who typically couldn’t care less. Cathy Ostlere has made a fan out of me…”
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Mixtures: Books…

“From the very first verses, I was hooked with the story and loved the main character…I really hope that you consider reading this story woven into a historical time period and I am proud to say that I learned more than I ever could have known otherwise about India and that particular struggle as well as gained insight into human nature.”
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Mrs. Katz’s YA Book Blurbs

“…Cathy Ostlere writing is simply gorgeous and Maya’s story is both heartbreaking and endearing. It is hard not cheer for the growing relationship between Sandeep and Maya and to not cry for their losses…”
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Romance Reviews Today

“…A story both quick and moving, KARMA provides an interesting take on the 1984 riots in India…if you are looking for a deep and well written story, be sure to check out KARMA by Cathy Ostlere.”
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S. Krishna’s Books

“Karma was a fascinating, eye-opening coming-of-age novel, and I am so glad I gave it a chance…This was really an amazing book and I can’t wait to see what Cathy Ostlere does next.”
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Teena in Toronto

“I got caught up in the story and liked the characters. I’ve never experienced anything like Maya and Sandeep had and was hoping it would end well for them…I enjoyed this book and would recommend it if you are looking for a good story and a different format.”
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Teen Stuff

“This book was incredible! It was a extremely suspenseful and very inspirational!…This book is all about romance and how love can provide happiness even in the darkest times!”
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That Hapa Chick

“If you haven’t read Karma yet I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to pick it up. It is definitely one of my favorites, if not THE favorite book I’ve read all year…” Read the full review…

To Read or Not to Read

“…Overall I thought this story was fantastic…Cathy Ostlere did a great job with this novel. I experienced a lot of emotions while reading Karma. It’s funny how a few words can say so much sometimes. This novel is written in beautifully constructed verse. It is a must read.”
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West Allis Public Library Teen Events

“…I absolutely loved this beautiful novel in verse…The story of how Maya and Sandeep unravel the secrets of their separate pasts to build a future together in the middle of an ancient country’s religious and political turmoil is one you won’t want to miss @ the library!”
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Wicked Awesome Books

“Karma is a story that should be read; Not only for its subject matter – a massacre in India that I never knew happened – but for its beauty…Ostlere shows the reader a world of hatred and cruelty, but ultimately tells us that all is not lost and even though human kind is capable of a great many terrible things, we are also capable of a love like no other.”
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Teen Reviews for Karma

Natalie, age 14

“…This book is unlike the majority of the young adult novels in the market today. It doesn’t hide what has happened. It doesn’t shy away from dealing with politics and religion…The sheer beauty of it made me fall in love. Karma is a collection of words woven together to create an amazing read and journey for anyone to experience.”
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Karma - Cathy Ostlere