Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Karma Khullar's Mustache

27277199Wientge, Kristi. Karma Khullar's Mustache
August 15th 2017 by Simon and Schuster
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Karma and Sara have been friends for years, but as the two are making plans for their sixth grade year, Karma starts to be concerned that Sara is much more interested in clothes, make up and boys. To make matters worse, a new girl moves into the house across the street from Sara. Lacey is pretty, from California, and offers Karma "beauty tips" about dealing with the beginnings of a mustache on her upper lip. When they are all hanging out at the pool, Lacey is even meaner. She and some boys start the phrase "'Stache Attack", complete with a finger over their lip gesture, and Sara doesn't even stand up for Karma! The first day of 6th grade is not great; Karma's lunch spills and others make fun of her, and she finds herself in the company of the two most unpopular kids in her grade... who happen to be the only ones who are nice to her. Things aren't great at home, either. Her father's position at the university has been cut, so he's a stay-at-home dad, and her mother has increased her hours and is rarely home. Karma also misses her grandmother, who lived with the family but recently passed away. She tries to remember what Dadima would have told her to do when things get bad, and even talks her father into taking her to a talk on karma at the family's Sikh house of worship, but there's no easy answer. Karma even tries to go along with her math teacher's idea to tutor Lacey, but this just gets her into even more misunderstandings. Finally, Karma is able to talk to her parents and get some help navigating the choppy waters of middle school.
Strengths: Everyone has a mustache. Karma's mother says it, and it's SO true! I was a definitely more like Karma's mother in middle school (blonde and Methodist), but there were many times that I felt uncomfortable or fought with my friends. Karma's reactions are spot on; I even liked that she thought religion and relying on God could help, mainly because her grandmother had told her this. I think middle school is a prime time for putting a lot of credence in religious help. Sara's reactions to things are accurate as well, and I was very relieved that the two were able to work things out. Lacey was realistically evil; she had her motivations, but I still hated her! I would have loved seeing the details of Karma's every day life and her approach to problems when I was in middle school. Great book!
Weaknesses: The scene where Karma decided to shave seemed a bit overly dramatic, and I was surprised that the tiffin spilled so frequently. I thought the whole point was that tiffins had leak proof seals so they could be transported. Also, if my lunch spilled so often, I think I would take something else, so matter how much I liked daal!
What I really think: This needs a cover like the Aladdin M!X books and a punchier title. I loved the story, but doubt that readers will pick this one up without a bit of prompting.
Ms. Yingling

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