4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Karina by E.B. Mann was an interesting and unexpected tale. I thought this would be about a girl coming into her own and finding her place in the world. Instead, I got a supernatural story with past lives, secret caves, and a talking fish.
Karina had an accident as a young child, leaving a horrendous scar across her forehead. Because of this, she is taunted and bullied in high school. She has one friend, Mary Blair, who has her own problems. Karina also has two brothers that are constantly fighting. Karina’s adventure begins when she stumbles upon a random door on the beach while walking her dog. She clears the brush from in front of it and bravely opens the door. Inside is a winter wonderland and a strange old man named, Algernon. He knows things about her he shouldn’t, but she strangely doesn’t feel threatened. With his help--and the help of the local talking rainbow fish--Karina is able to remember things like her birth, some of her past lives, and the details of how she got her scar.
She experienced her accident as if it was happening in that moment. She felt the pain and all the other emotions that went with it. She let herself grieve and cry. She realized how that accident and her scar had influenced other aspects of her life, for example she didn’t often feel safe, and she was constantly worried about being judged for her appearance. Because of these realizations, she was able to heal, both physically and spiritually. Her scar was miraculously gone afterwards.
As Karina became more and more aware, she was able to see other things, as well. She could look at a person and see his or her actual motives. She saw a teacher yelling at a student and saw that the teacher was really upset about her own life more than what the student had done wrong. She was able to see Mary Blair’s past lives and how those experiences had influenced her current life. She was able to tell when people were lying, though she didn’t always choose to call them out on it. She was also able to see people for whom they truly were inside. She had a long-standing crush on a boy, but her awareness let her see that under the beautiful face and sports physique, he was really mean, shallow, self-centered, and cold.
Although a lot of this sounds a bit silly and lame, Mann does such a great job of writing this story so that you don’t even realize things are getting so far-out-there. You’re so involved in Karina’s journey and the unimaginable things that she is slowly starting to see and experience. I also liked how Algernon explained that anyone could have this level of understanding and sight but that most people reject that part of themselves, and therefore never find their own caves.
Almost from the beginning of the book we are expecting a visit from Karina’s grandmother. Karina talks about how close she is with Grammy. Her visits are a normal occurrence, and we don’t think much of it. We learn that Grammy also has the awareness that Karina is learning to use. There is quite a bit more that they speak about. This whole section touched my heart so much, I found myself crying uncontrollably for a while. I had to put the book down and come back to it. I recently lost my own grandmother. We were very close. Even without that personal connection, I feel this scene would tear at the heartstrings of any reader.
There was a boy who lived next door that Karina only interacted with after she visited her cave. He was a strange character. He was the type of child that needs help but is too shy to ask for it. She speaks to him a few times and gives him a book, but I felt that part of the story could have been developed a lot more. On the other hand, I liked how she helped her brothers get over their constant fighting. She was able to see the route issue and address it without giving herself away.
I only found two easily overlooked mistakes in this book, so I feel it was professionally edited. I wish this story had been longer, but I still rate it 4 out of 4 stars. This is a good book for young readers, especially those that might be doing a little soul-searching. I would also recommend this to adults who enjoy a heart-warming and magical story. Those that don’t believe in reincarnation would not enjoy this book at all.
View: on Bookshelves
Like bb587's review? Post a comment saying so!