Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind
by Suzanne Fisher Staples
(Laurel Leaf Library)
Although marked as part of the Young Adult genre, do not underestimate the power of Daughter of the Wind, the first novel in Suzanne Fisher Staples’ Shabanu series.
Shabanu is the youngest daughter of two in a family with no sons. Life in the Pakistan desert as a nomad has been a dream for this 11-year-old, who has experienced freedoms that most Muslim girls could not even dream of. It’s a life filled with windstorms and constant travel, but she is happy with her camels and family.
However, when her older sister’s arranged marriage falls through, Shabanu – who has barely started puberty – is betrothed against her will to man three times her age, and faces having to grow up fast to honour her family.
This novel is an interesting look into the nomad culture, a life that many are unfamiliar with. It also eschews the usual western notions of the Muslim world, war-torn states and suicide bombings, with its sole focus on a young girl forced to grow up before she is even a teenager, and the sacrifices such girls and women make for their families.
Intertwined with Pakistani vernacular (with a pronunciation guide), Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind is a novel that makes for an authentic yet comprehensible experience for all readers.