Title: Sublime Karma
Author: Peyton Garver
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Publication Date: November 30, 2016
Rating: 4.5 Stars
You are falling under
You replace the hurt with pain
No, you’re not insane
You replace the hurt with pain
To rein in your thoughts again
And why you’re all alone
It seems there’s no escape
unless you can find another way
You can lean on me
You are not alone
I’ll be there for you
I’ll help pull you through
There is another way
Open up your eyes and see
I’ll take you there with me”
Dear fellow Babblers,
I was recently sent Sublime Karma by the author, Peyton Garver in exchange for an honest review. If y’all think you have had enough of teenage drams – prissy cheerleaders, narcissistic jocks, mysterious emos – welcome to Sublime Karma. In this novel issues of teenage depression, self-harm, domestic abuse, peer bullying are all brought to the forefront as Garver brings together two distinctly different high schoolers into a romantic and potentially fatal romance. This book has touched my heart, feelings, thoughts in a way that no story – not even Go Ask Alice or our favorite psychological classic, The Bell Jar has ever done before.
When Brie’s stepfather moves the family for what he calls a new beginning, it’s not the new beginning the beautiful, yet guarded, senior would have hoped for. Brie is instantly targeted by jealous girls at her new school, and the only available seat on her bus is next to the school’s star wide receiver, Jake, who for some reason, finds her offensive. After a humiliating article and picture of Brie is posted in the online school journal, a demon she thought she’d overcome resurfaces, and her life unravels. A newly compassionate Jake has finally taken an interest in her, but can Brie learn to trust her heart, or will she miss out on the best thing that ever happened to her?
Jake has his own secrets and has built his own walls, but eventually his curiosity about the new girl gets the best of him. Unfortunately, now there is competition: the captain of her cross-country team. Jake’s romantic histories with the girl next door and the school’s queen bee, adds tension to a simmering tempest when all he wants is Brie. Is he strong enough to help the one he loves weave sense into her crumbling new reality while overcoming his own tainted past?
Beginning, continuing, and ending as a novel heavy in dialogue and brief in illusion and description, Sublime Karma paints a portrait of your typical high school novela. Everything at Jake’s high school seems to be running just as, according to drama-dictionary standards, just as it should be. Jake is our average high school jock, a star football player and member of the up-and-coming band, Sublime Karma, who finds himself stuck in a love triangle with the girl next door, Ari and the two-timing chick, Sarah – neither of which he could say he loves.
Brie moves into town with a past that unravels as the novel continues to build suspense. Clearly troubled by her past and nervous to starting fresh in a new suburban town, Brie’s first encounter with Jake marks the onset of a chain of formidable event that do not only change their life but as well as that of those around them. From the moment that Jake (reluctantly) assents to let Brie sit next to him on the bus, being the only empty seat left, she automatically becomes target to a new wave of harm that will, by the end of the book return to he r perpetrators – indeed what we could call sublime karma.
Brie joins the high school cross country as a way to “keep herself busy,” at least that is as much as Garver is willing to tell us in the beginning stages of the novel. On her first day of practice she meets the charming captain of the team, Ryan, but who comes with a bit of drama of his own, in this case the captain of the girls team. Proving to be a threat, not only because of her beauty but also for her talent as a long distance runner, Brie automatically arouses jealousy from the other teammates. Ryan, on the other hand, is already falling for her. Ryan is all that a girl could hope for – handsome, kind, understanding, but is this really what could mend the wounds of this sad girl?
Inevitably finding herself blown away by Ryan, yet intrigued by Jake, Brie struggles to at the same time fit in at the new school and keep her painful past…in the past. As the novel progresses, Brie and Jake find themselves drawn to each other for their “baggage,” each attracted to each other from pure curiosity, but, by the end, unable to do without each other – call it love? Absolutely.
I was initially skeptical going into Sublime Karma mainly because…wait for it… I hate the cover. Yup. When I saw the image of this girl with an intense look of anxiety on her face, blurred by a red cloud in the background, my heart sunk a bit in anticipation for just another piece of chick lit. That is, in fact, how the novel begins but as I traversed deeper into the text, I found myself unable to put it down. Garver addresses a variety of issues beyond the usual high school bullying and short-lived high school relationships. As already mentioned, this novel is brief in description and heavy in dialogue, probably more fit for a screenplay than actual book, but the relationship between the characters, both the protagonists and supporting characters is just so vivid and real. I was especially touched by the transformation that Jake undergoes throughout the novel and his overall role in Bries suffering and, ultimately, her healing.
It is rare that I am chocked up and, touched to this degree by a book. Every aspect of this book is raw and created a spur of emotion in me that I never before thought could be accomplished. Garver has not only created a novel of suspense, but also a masterpiece that paints a picture of the significant consequences that a spiteful person can have on a sad person.
Think you know what it means to be sad? Think you have an idea of the harm words can spur in a troubled heat? Think you can relate to the flood of tears that come as a result of a playful scheme? Read Sublime Karma and only then, can we babble. Be sure to bring your tissues, I just may get chocked up again.
(Book image credits go to Goodreads)