July 29, 2010

Book Review: Karma Bites

Title: Karma Bites
Authors: Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

From Goodreads
Her best friends aren’t speaking, her parents just divorced, and her hippie grandmother has moved in. The only karma Franny’s got is bad karma.

Then Franny gets her hands on a box of magic recipes that could fix all of her problems. It could even change the world! Finally, life is looking up.

But Franny is about to learn that magic and karma aren’t to be played with. When you mess with the universe, it can bite back in unexpected ways.

My Review
This was such a cute book!  Ok at first it had the cringe factor for me.  Not the writing or anything like that but because of Franny's actions.  Once she learns of her grandmother's "magic" box that can give her ways to "fix" things I cringed left and right at what she decides to do.  As an outsider I knew it wasn't going to work but was helpless to stop her! Her actions just made me cringe! That said, I really liked Franny.  As a 7th grade teacher Franny rang true for me.  She just wanted to blend, to fit in, to not stand out in a way that might make her noticed and targeted.  She knew she needed to wear the right clothes, do the right thing and not rock the boat.  I see that with a lot of my students.  So when she feels like life isn't going her way, it's not a suprise that she does things that, to an outsider, might seem crazy. But because she's so realistic they are understandable.  I also liked that I could see how Franny was giving up parts of herself for her friends.  Because she was torn between two friends and wanting to make them both happy, she wasn't doing anything for herself.  She didn't get to do what she wanted to do.  I see that happening with some of my students - not to this degree but it's there. I think this will help them relate to Franny even more.

In the end what I really like about the book was the message within the chaos Franny creates. Franny learns there are no easy fixes. What seems like an easy solution may actually make it worse.  She's told over and over by her mother, grandmother and even Lama Tensing Pasha to talk to her friends about how she feels.  Of course she ignores them and goes to extreme measures that backfire. In the end she does learn that fixing something is best done through the simplest means - it may not be what you want to do, but it's the best way to go.  What a great lesson!!  There is also a secondary lesson about being true to who you are.  Franny's friends Joey and Kate know that - each having their own style.  It's Franny that has to figure out that's ok, and they don't need to change to fit in. This is something girls this age struggle with all the time.

There were a couple of things I wasn't over excited about in the book.  I didn't like the slang her friend Kate used.  I found it hard to read and a bit over done.  Also the social ladder in the school was a bit much.  I know it's there, but not in such an obvious way.  These are minor things that didn't take away from the over all enjoyment of the book, but I did notice them.

Final thought: Cute book about what happens when we try to change things to the way we want them
Best for readers who: are girls in 5-7th grade
Best stick-with-you image: The english teacher dancing to Katy Perry!
Best for ages: 9-13

Don't forget that this is one of the books up for grabs for the In the Middle Reading Challenge update.
Make sure to share your reviews. You can still join!!!
 If you pick this book the authors have offered to send a SIGNED copy plus some cool swag!!!!!

Here's the trailer for it.  And make sure to check out the Karma Bites website.


  1. I got this in the mail the other day. I'm glad you liked it.

  2. Great review - I know what you mean about the overdone slang. It makes me feel old, but then it also makes me think that it's dumming down the books kids are reading. I'm sure that's not the intent, but that's how I feel sometimes when books are heaving into slang/textspeak

  3. Great review. I hadn't heard of this one. I'll check it out.

  4. Aw, this definitely sounds like a cute read, with a great life lesson thrown in for good measure! :) Middle school...a rough time for everyone! ;)