Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The House of Djinn by Suzanne Fisher Staples
First I should say that I am a huge fan of the book Shabanu, which tells the story of a Pakistani girl who is forced to marry a much older man with multiple wives. That book opened my eyes to a part of the world I had never even thought about. This is the third book about Shabanu, but this book focuses more on her daughter Mumtaz. Shabanu faked her own death ten years ago to save Mumtaz's life, and now Mumtaz is a teenager and finds out she is expected to marry her cousin, Jameel. Jameel is a skateboarder from San Francisco and it is a surprise to him that he is expected to return to Pakistan, marry Mumtaz, and become the tribal leader for his clan. The best things about this book are the setting (life with the upper class in Lahore) and the insight into Pakistani culture (including the clash between modern thinking and the old-fashioned male-dominated culture). I did not like the supernatural "Djinn" which is a spirit that exists to teach people lessons. I also thought that the complex family and all their names and the use of Pakistani words will probably turn off many middle school readers. Even I was confused some of the time. I enjoyed finding out the fate of Shabanu and her daughter, but I think this book will probably only be appreciated by readers who have also read Shabanu and Haveli.