Karma Bites by Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas

Karma Bites by Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 suns
Reviewed by Cholla

Life seems to have it in for Franny Flanders.

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.

Ouch!

When they said middle school wasn’t going to be easy, they weren’t kidding! Franny Flanders is going in with the odds already stacked against her. Her two best friends can’t stand one another. Her parents just divorced. And when you add the oddest of all grandmothers into the mix, you have to wonder, can things possibly get any worse? Without a doubt, yes, they can.

Franny is your ordinary girl. She’s excitable, she’s fun, and she loves her friends. However, she’s also stuck in a tough situation, both with her family and her friends. Sometime in the past, her two best friends, Joey and Kate, had a falling out, leaving Franny to shuffle between them like a lost ship. The idea that her two closest friends can’t even be civil to one another tears at her heart and her twelve-year-old sense of fairness. She struggles for a way to bring the three of them together constantly. And when she’s accidentally presented with what seems to be the perfect solution, disaster strikes.

Even though Franny is a pretty level-headed kid, she is still just that – a kid – and she lets the excitement get the better of her. Despite well-meant warnings and her own gut feeling, she gets caught up in what’s happening around her, unable to make herself stop, in much the same way kids do every day. In the way of pre-teens everywhere, an uncontrollable sense of what should be overcomes her better sense and the hard truth of what is. Aside from being a bit hard-headed, Franny is a loveable character – very realistic in her thoughts, fears and actions. I found a lot of myself in her – never settling into her own niche, always kind of floating between her more popular friend Joey and her less popular, but just as good friend, Kate. All in all, she’s a good kid with a strong idea of how she wants things to be. Eventually she does come around and comes to grip with the idea that some things just can’t be solved with magic. Some things just aren’t meant to be. In addition, like most kids her age, she can learn only one way – the hard way – before she gives in and realizes that others often do know best.

Karma Bites is a great story, full of laughs, difficult choices, and crazy middle-school hijinks. It’s a fun way to show kids that not everything bad has to be the end of the world, nor does it give false hope by swearing that everything will always be okay. Despite the magical aspect, these kids are very real in their ideas, actions, and feelings. Because of this, you’re sure to love Franny and her madcap group of friends and family from the very beginning. By the end of this delightful story, you’ll be cheering her on!

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