Monday, December 3, 2012
The Karma Club
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010
Plot Summary: Senior Madison Kasparkova is in love with her boyfriend of two years, Mason. He’s cool, he’s the class president, he’s a good athlete, and more. So she’s super excited when an article she submitted about him appears in an issue of Contempo Girl’s (a Brody staple) “Meet My Boyfriend” column. It gets them and her two best friends—Jade and Angie—invited to the Loft, rich boy Spencer’s parents San Francisco apartment that is usually empty. What she doesn’t expect is to find Mason lip locked with Heather “Perfect” Campbell! Upset about their apparent breakup, she is dragged by her mom to a spirit revival clinic where she learns about the concept of karma. Instead of waiting for karma to bite Mason and Heather in the butt, she talks Jade and Angie into creating the Karma Club and dolling out the karmic payback themselves. Heather loses her good looks (Crisco in her acne cream), Mason is busted for cheating on his SATs and loses his scholarship, Angie’s ex-boyfriend ends up losing his spot on the varsity baseball team, and Jade’s ex loses his “golden boy” reputation when they “Mrs. Robinson” him. The problem is karma doesn’t like being told what to work at a different pace and soon the girls have to face the backlash of their own actions and the karma that comes with it.
Critical Evaluation: I can see how some reviewers called the book vapid because the heartbroken girls end up being just as evil and vindictive as the people who hurt them in the first place and that they use the concept of karma as a basis for revenge. However, in the end they do realize that they went about it wrong and try to fix their mistakes with actual acts of goodwill in a sort of pay-it-forward mission. Their mission of goodwill starts off anonymously but eventually turns into a whole movement for teens which is a nice idea in principle but makes the ending seem very unrealistic. Overall, the book is funny and the characters do grow which is important. They start off innocently hurt and then make some bad mistakes but they learn from them in the end which is very applicable to real life.
Reader's Annotation: Ever wish karma would come and bite someone who deserves it? So does Madison. But karma never seems to want to come around when you want it to. So Madison and her friends, Jade and Angie, start the Karma Club to dole out the karma themselves.
Author Information: Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self “publishing” her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples and electrical tape. After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author. In four short years, Jessica has sold nine novels (two adult novels to St. Martin’s Press and seven young adult novels to Farrar, Straus, Giroux). Jessica’s books are published and translated in over fifteen foreign countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, Portugal, Poland, Bulgaria, Israel, and Taiwan. Jessica now works full time as a writer and producer. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Colorado (Brody, n.d.).
Genre: Realistic, Humor
Curriculum Ties: Karma, the idea of good vibes/bad vibes, a pay-it-forward movement
Booktalking Ideas: When Madison’s boyfriend is featured in Contempo Girl, the idea for Karma Club
Reading Level/Interest Age: 13+
Challenge Issues: Drinking, partying, language, sex
Challenge Defense: If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:
· A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill)
· A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/offices/oif/statementspols/ftrstatement/freedomreadstatement)
· A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
· A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
· Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
· Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
· Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/challengeslibrarymaterials/copingwithchallenges/strategiestips)
Reason for Inclusion: Well-written and humorous realistic fiction YA author.
Brody, J. (n.d.). Bio. Retrieved from http://www.jessicabrody.com/about-jessica/biography/