Karma Khullar’s Mustache by Kristi Wientge (review)
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Reviewed by
Wientge, Kristi Karma Khullar’s Mustache. Simon, 2017 [272p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-7770-3 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-7772-7 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 5–8

Starting sixth grade is hard enough, but starting it with seventeen dark hairs sprouting on your upper lip and a new girl bent on sabotaging your relationship with your best friend makes it even harder. Karma’s half-Sikh, half-Methodist family has been through a lot of changes in the past year. Her beloved and supportive dadima (grandmother) has died, her father has lost his job, and her mother has become a dean, which means she’s at work more than at home. With Karma’s best friend, Sara, courting popularity, and the loud boys in her class calling her “’Stache Attack,” Karma feels abandoned. She’s resilient, though, so she musters her courage to take her problems into her own hands, with results that vary from the disastrous to the successful. Readers may be a bit surprised that Karma and Sara consult print magazines rather than the internet for a solution to the facial hair problem, but other details and concerns are current and recognizable. The religious and cultural elements are seamlessly woven into Karma’s ways of thinking, with her blonde mother reluctant to make her daughter self-conscious over a problem Mom never had to face. This is a smoothly realistic and heartfelt exploration of an ordinary middle-schooler with problems aplenty and just enough courage to solve them.

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