Disfigured by a childhood accident, thirteen-year-old Karina Morgan has it tough. Labeled an outcast because of her appearance, she must deal with bullying, rowdy brothers, and parents struggling with their own problems. One day, walking through the woods, she happens upon a mysterious cave. What she finds inside will change her entire world.
What I loved:
I have a soft spot for stories about bullied kids who find their way back to happiness, so I connected with Karina immediately. I felt her pain as she dealt with the school divas, unrequited crushes, and a world that seems hellbent on crushing her. The plot was well thought out (think Wonder meets Alice in Wonderland), and I think many early teen readers would enjoy it. The plot also got rather metaphysical near the end, to the point where I wasn’t sure whether what was going on was real or imagined, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
What I didn’t love:
This is the author’s first book, and it shows. She described many events in past perfect, which I found jarring at times. And while I appreciate that kids that age do swear a lot (especially boys), there was rather more than I would have expected in an MG novel. Karina’s best friend, Mary Blair, was a character I wish could have appeared more than she did.
My Final Verdict:
Karina is an endearing story, and not at all what I was expecting. If you are a teen (or a parent of a teen) who knows what it feels like to not fit in, then this might be the book for you.