Sunday, December 6, 2009

Karma for Beginners

The book "Karma for Beginners" is a story about a young 14 year old girl, Tessa, who lacks stability and proper parenting from her mother. Her father abandoned her at a young age and her mother is a hippie, who likes to travel from place to place and has unstable relationships with men. When ever one of her relationships terminates, she relocates to another place and drags Tessa along with her. Their next trip is to Catskills, because Tessa's mother feels she needs to find spiritual peace and freedom. Once in the Catskills, the mother is very happy at the ashram there, where followers worship a guru in an orange robe. Tessa does not feel comfortable there, she feels like an outcast among freaks. As her mother gets more drawn into the rituals of the guru, she hardly pays any attention to Tessa. This lack of attention leaves Tessa to wonder the compound. While wondering, she meets Collin, a twenty year old college drop out, that fixes trucks for the ashram. At first she likes him because he's normal and funny, they share the same taste in music, and begin to spent a lot of time together.

Tessa enjoys spending time with Collin because she feels, a special spiritual connection with him that she's never felt before. As time progresses, she starts to make poor decisions. Tessa begins leaving the compound to hang out at Collins place or with his friends. She eventually looses her virginity to him and begins abusing illegal drugs, like marijuana and acid. Collin's attitude changes towards Tessa, he is not as caring towards her after they become intimate, but it could have been due to the ingestion of drugs. Although the ending was surprising, I was expecting something better, some justice for Tessa.

This book is yet another example of what happens when children don't have the required parental guidance. The mother was so absorbed in herself, that she hardly noticed her daughters need for guidance. I believe the mother must of had some type of psychological break, to be so neglectful of her own child. It makes me wonder why the father abandoned them when Tessa was very young, he probably couldn't keep up with the mother, or maybe he felt no emotional tie to either, since he was in a rock band.This story portrays what happens to kids when they have no parental guidance. Tessa was only fourteen and engaged in sexual relationships with a twenty year old man. That is statutory rape, where Collin should have been arrested. She made terrible choices that could have been avoided, had she a more responsible parent.

I do not recommend this book for YA literature, I don't think it's appropriate because it involved to much drug use, sex and vulgarity.


radcinbad said...


This book reminds me a bit of White Oleander, although I havn't read it in quite some time, so I can't be sure about how many parallels truly exsist. Either way, the book seems to have important messages about peer pressure, and parent/teen relationships. Often times adolescents complain that their parents are too nosy or overbearing, but it is interesting that Tessa has a freeloving and trusting mother but wants more control in her life. The grass is always greener next door isn't it?

Ms. Edukated said...

This book does mimick White Oleander, at least the film version. This book seems to deal with issues in parenting which leads to a lot of other problems, similar to those that Tessa faces. It's amazing how parents can get so wrapped up in themselves that they forget about their own children, but it obviously happens.