And so I present my long overdue review of Shabanu which assigned me a few weeks ago for our "assign each other a book" project. My delay in getting this one finished was not because of the length of the book - it took me just two days to read - instead it was that I had been trying to finish another book which I am sad to say was probably not worth the time I put into it. Anyway, I am happy to report that Shabanu most definitely was worth the time and reaffirmed to me that I actually can finish a book quickly - something that hasn't happened as often as it used to.
The book was written by Suzanne Fisher Staples and it falls into the Young Adult Fiction section of the library (of which I am not at all familiar with in my local one so I had to wander around a bit until I found the right section). The story focuses around a young girl, Shabanu, who is part of a desert herding family that lives in Pakistan. It is a coming of age story and while I found the book very good, I also thought it was very depressing. Much of the story is about freedom and the lack of it. As a child, Shabanu has freedom to roam the desert with her beloved camels, but as she grows older her freedoms diminish considerably. It actually makes me really angry that women in different cultures and parts of the world have so little say in the course of their lives. I cannot imagine being married off barely into teen years to immediately begin bearing children, or facing the possibility of being beaten or killed if I disobeyed my father, or so many of the other things that Shabanu has to wrestle with throughout the story.
The ending made me want to cry a little.