New Reviews


“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:


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.

Reviews for Karma

The Winnipeg Free Press

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

The Globe and Mail

“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.

National Public Radio

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.


“…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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Reviews for Lost: A Memoir — The Play

Calgary Herald

“FOUR STARS - Talk about an incredible journey!”
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Calgary Sun

“There is no question Lost - A Memoir will become a staple of professional theatres around the world.” Read the full review…

Reviews for Lost — The Book

The Globe And Mail

“…an impressive work that resolves extraordinarily difficult material into moving, effective narrative and achingly beautiful prose poetry.”
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The Chronicle Herald

Lost by Cathy Ostlere is a memoir created from water and salt, from an ocean of grief and tears and from an ocean where Ostlere’s brother sought freedom. … Lost is surely one of the most beautiful and powerful books to be published in Canada this year.”
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Winnipeg Free Press

“Ostlere should be commended for her emotional honesty in writing this touching memorial to her brother.”
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January Magazine

Lost breaks the heart, again and again.”
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Women’s Post

“Cathy Ostlere’s Lost is a memoir of a remarkable and redemptive journey…”
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Calgary Herald

Lost is a beautifully written book, compelling in its unique and varied form and gorgeous, poetic language.”
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Publishers Weekly

“Her emotional pain is raw, especially in passages where she compares David’s adventurous lifestyle to her choice of domesticity, or the anger that comes when she finally realizes how reckless and ill-prepared he’d been to attempt this trip at all. For all the influence David’s unknown fate wields over events, it’s these internal intimacies, and the tracing of their effect on her relationships with other surviving family, that give the memoir its most enduring power.”

Owl’s Nest Books

“This very moving account of an adventurous risk-taking brother who is lost at sea will tear at your heart and force you to examine the choices you have made in your own life. Can you be true to yourself and your dreams? [Cathy Ostlere’s] … images are striking. The prose is full of raw emotion and the questions she asks are very courageous. You will be thinking about the book long after you have finished it.”

KARMA awards

  • Alberta Literary Awards Winner –
    R. Ross Annett Children’s Award, 2012

  • South Asia Book Award (SABA), Highly Commended Book, 2012

  • Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award, Honour Book, 2012

  • W.O. Mitchell Award City of Calgary, shortlist, 2012

  • Ontario Library Association Best Bets List,
    Honourable Mention, 2012

  • YALSA, Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012

  • BOOKLIST, Editor’s Choice, Best Books for Young Adults, 2012



“Intensely lyrical, hypnotic and haunting, Cathy Ostlere’s memoir of personal loss is unafraid to take risks. The rich language of Lost pulls the reader into an intimate and singular state of mind, into a place “where time has collapsed” and a fierce gravity takes hold. This is a book that refuses easy consolation, taking us beyond a traditional tragic ending to reconsider our understanding of love, responsibility and loyalty. ” — Edna Staebler Judges

LOST— the play

Nominated for Outstanding New Play, 2011 Betty Mitchell Awards, Calgary

Top Ten Theatre Shows for 2011 — Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis

Best 11 plays of 2011 — The Chronicle Herald, Halifax

Cathy’s other awards

2007 National Magazine Awards, Personal Journalism category, finalist
2007 Western Magazine Awards, Human Experience category, finalist
2005 Prism Literary Non-Fiction Contest, shortlist
2004 CBC Literary Awards, Travel Writing category, shortlist
2004 Event Magazine Creative Non-Fiction Contest, finalist
2002 CBC Canadian Literary Awards, Travel Writing category, shortlist
2002 Western Magazine Awards, Human Experience category, finalist
2001 Event Magazine Creative Non-Fiction Contest, winner