Karma For Beginners by Jessica Blank
Hyperion Book CH (August 18, 2009)
320 Pages, Young Adult (see review)
$11.55 (Amazon.com, 09/10/09)
Overall: 24/30 = 80% = B
Cover/Title Bonus: 5
I received this for review from Disney-Hyperion.
Please note that this will be a long review. This book had some details that I want to focus on a bit. It also hit home on a few topics, so it’s a bit of a personal review too.
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?
Tessa has a selfish mother who up and moves as often as possible, usually after a break up with a guy. They move to a “spiritual camp”, called an ashram. Her mom loves it there, nearly forgetting Tessa lives. Tessa meets a guy, Colin. He’s not from the ashram. He just fixes their vehicles. The ashram is a secret society of crazy people worshipping an orange robe-wearing guru, who is not what he seems (See: Overall section).
I enjoyed the plot to an extent. I liked learning about Tessa. I liked watching her transform into a woman. The ending of this book was not what I expected: it ended rather abruptly and not so well. (See: Overall section).
The setting was awesome. The ashram was in the middle of no where in the Catskills. The buildings each had a weird name because of the weird ashram language. There were awesome paths in the forests. Lots of statues. It’s set in 1986. There’s lots of music references. Lots of drugs (See: Overall section).
I enjoyed the writing. I was addicted to reading this book. I knew that Colin and Tessa were going to be a thing and I wanted that to happen so bad. Tessa deserved some happiness in her life and I wanted that for her like I wanted to take my next breath. A lot more happens with Tessa than I expected. The drug use for one was like, wow. The sex was expected, but again, wow. I didn’t like the ending at all.
I haven’t read any book like this. I usually read paranormals so I don’t usually rub up against something as “normal” as this book. It’s a contemporary Young Adult novel that focuses on a young woman, she’s 14!, who’s struggling with finding her way in the world with a mom who isn’t really there. The guru wasn’t expected, he’s not what he seems, but I hated the ending. I wanted justice and we get none. Only fear and running.
Tessa is the main character. She’s 14! 14! She’s kind of a wild child by the end of this book: sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. (Had to say it!) She’s likeable and reminded me a lot of myself at that age. A little bit more than I’m happy with, actually, now that I’m older and can look back on it with more wisdom.
Colin is the vehicle repair guy at the ashram. He’s in his twenties. TWENTIES! He’s a really sweet guy who loves music, cars, and drugs. He has a couple of crazy friends: Bennett and Clint.
Tessa’s mom. She’s a basket case. I totally hated her character. I felt so bad for Tessa. She barely had a mother. She was more of a mother than her mother was! Her mom is mentally ill. There’s just no other explanation to it.
The guru dude. He needs to be burnt in hell. That is all.
Other characters of the ashram: GO HOME! Seriously.
Yes, the 14 year old and the twenty-something have sex. With that said, it’s a sweet romance. They do become great friends before the hanky panky happens. The age factor was an issue with me, but it happens, right?
Okay, now for my rant. I liked the book until the very end. So, do read it if you get a chance, just be prepared to be let down by the ending.
Loved the ashram setting, characters, and the overall development of the story, until the end of course.
Drugs. Drugs are abundant in this book. Specifically marijuana and acid. I guess since I usually don’t read books like this I wasn’t prepared for how it affected me. She’s 14! Sometimes I forget that I was once 14 (it wasn’t that long ago but still!) but now that I have my own daughter I’m freaking out! She’s 14! Guess what? I was younger than 14 when I was introduced to drugs: pot. I used it under 10 times total in my life, and each time before I was 16. Drugs are available to young kids. It’s sad and it infuriates me but it’s the truth. The one thing I stress after reading this book. Don’t ignore the topic of drugs with your children.
Sex. There’s sex in this book. It’s not as visual as the drugs but it’s there. She’s 14! He’s twenty-something! Again I’m back to the reminder that I was once 14 but I have a child now! I lost my virginity at 14, just shortly after my birthday. So, I really don’t have room to criticize Tessa’s decision making skills. This also goes back to how lame of a mother Tessa had. If her mom was anything but what she was in this book she would have had a better relationship with Tessa and could possibly have prevented any of this from happening, but then I would be naive to say this. Even kids with the best parents in the world fuck up, lie, have sex and do drugs or even worse.
I’d like to think that I will be a better parent and be able to counsel my daughter better so that she doesn’t make the same mistakes that I made. Talking to our children about these two issues is essential. And I’m beginning to think the younger they are the better. I don’t want my 14 year old having sex and doing drugs with a twenty-something guy!
And now about the ending. CONTAINS SPOILERS!
They just leave! They leave everything behind. Colin, the ashram, the nasty guru who should have been arrested, convicted, and then burned, in my opinion, and the entire ashram should have been shut down. It was corrupted. And I blame it all on Tessa’s mother. I hated her.
Love the cover! It’s perfect. And the title is nice.
Connect with Jessica Blank
Author Guest Post:
Jessica Blank will be visiting soon with an Author Guest Post. I sent her a few questions I had after reading Karma For Beginners. I hope she agrees to address them in her post.
There WILL be a giveaway! So check back!
Have you read this? Did you enjoy it? How do you feel about drug use and sex in YA books? She’s 14!