Book: Karma Khullar’s Mustache by Kristi Wientge
Published August 2017 by Simon Schuster Books For Young Readers|272 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Debut author Kristi Wientge tackles the uncomfortable—but all too relatable—subject of female body hair and self-esteem with this sweet and charming novel in the tradition of Judy Blume.
Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.
With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.
I think I’ve been in a middle grade contemporary mood lately because this is one of a few I’ve read recently. I mostly read YA (and only rarely read middle grade), but this one jumped out at me because it tackles body hair. I’ve read a lot of books in the 7.5 years I’ve been reviewing books and while I can’t always remember what I read a week or two ago, much less years ago, I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve read a book about a character dealing with body hair.
It does have a Judy Blume feel to it (for some reason, I’m specifically reminded of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret), and I think Judy Blume fans will enjoy this one. Regardless of whether you’ve read Judy Blume or not, this is a book I’m glad I picked up.
There is a lot that comes up in this book- food and identity, bullying, friendship, and much more. It’s not long, and it’s middle grade, so it doesn’t go into a lot of depth, but I still thought that you get a really good sense of what Karma is dealing with. I liked seeing her realize that both she and her best friend need other friends as well.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the new girl in town, who becomes friends with Karma’s best friend. Even though I can understand why she acted the way she did, I still wasn’t a fan. Hopefully, she’ll change and realize that she wasn’t always nice, and that how she treated Karma wasn’t cool.
Karma’s middle school experience was pretty relatable and I wish it had been around when I was around 11 or 12. Not necessarily the friendship drama part, but the feeling insecure about how I looked part. I’m glad that this book is on the shelves now, though, because I feel like it has an audience.
4 stars. I didn’t love it, and I’m not quite sure why, but I still really liked it, and would recommend it to everyone.