Friday, September 18, 2009

REVIEW: Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank

Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank

Fourteen-year-old Tessa has never had a normal life. Her mother, a frustrated hippie with awful taste in men, has seen to that. But when her mom pulls her out of school to live at an ashram in the Catskills, Tessa goes from being a freak among normal people to being an outcast among freaks. Freaks who worship an orange robe-wearing guru. And while her mom is buzzing with spiritual energy, and finding a little too much favor with the guru, all Tessa feels are weird vibes. Unless she's with Colin, the gorgeous boy who fixes trucks for the ashram. The connection they share is the most spiritual thing Tessa has ever felt. But he's older-like illegally older-and Tessa's taking dangerous risks to spend time with him. Soon her life is blooming into a psychedelic web of secrets and lies and it's clear that something's about to give way. When it does, will she have anyone to hold on to? Will she even know herself?

My Thoughts

I loved this book from the start. Even my boyfriend read a bit of it one night after I had him read the introductory quote on Chapter 1:
To open up your consciousness, you must detach yourself completely from the life you thought you knew.
He liked it well enough that he kept reading for a couple of chapters. Now keep in mind that this is a guy that does not read fiction. He reads textbooks on PHP and CSS and electronics and self-help books. In the 5 years that I've known him, he's only read a fictional story once.

So the fact that he kept reading this book after reading the quote I'd shown him was astounding to me. But that's the kind of book that this is.

This is a book of abandonment. It's a story that so many girls can identify with: Raised by a single mother with no father in the picture, seeking a father's love, the fear that everyone will abandon you as he did, and a selfish and emotionally-distant mother to boot.

Tessa's mother is totally self-absorbed. I know women like this. My best friend's mother was quite a bit like this. Her needs came first instead of that of her children. Tessa is always second-place in her mother's life (or third or fourth).

After she and her mother become residents of an isolated cult, Tessa feels more abandoned than ever as her mother thrives in the new community. Tessa turns to an older man for comfort and acceptance. Her new peer group of older men causes her to deal with situations that she is not prepared to deal with.

These situations were especially interesting to me, because they sort of start out thrilling and warm and cozy and enlightening, and Tessa thinks how wonderful these experiences are, but then reality sets in. She begins to lose herself and feels her life spiraling out of control. I think that most of us can identify with the feeling of hitting bottom...
Just go home, I tell myself. Just sneak into your bed and close your eyes and crawl between the sheets. Alone and quiet I can piece myself together; the world will slow to steady and I'll find solid ground again.
I really liked this story. Warm and gentle, stirring memories of my childhood, with moments of heartbreak, I would recommend this "coming of age" story to anyone. Please be warned that, although this is young adult, there is quite a bit of vulgarity in it, so be wary if this offends you or if you are concerned with exposing your child to foul language and other "adult situations".
  • Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
  • Pub. Date: August 2009
  • ISBN-13: 9781423117513
  • 320pp
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've got this one on my list. Great review!