Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples book cover

Shabanu (Mature Teen)
By Suzanne Fisher Staples

Life is both sweet and cruel to strong-willed young Shabanu, whose home is the windswept Cholistan Desert of Pakistan. The second daughter in a family with no sons, she’s been allowed freedoms forbidden to most Muslim girls. But when a tragic encounter with a wealthy and powerful landowner ruins the marriage plans of her older sister, Shabanu is called upon to sacrifice everything she’s dreamed of. Should she do what is necessary to uphold her family’s honor—or listen to the stirrings of her own heart?


Contemporary Setting, Familial Issues, Foreign Culture, Moral Dilemmas, Philosophical Issues

Why this is a Good Book For Teenage Girls

Shabanu is a good book for teenage girls because it's a poignant coming-of-age novel set in the desert of Pakistan. Shabanu is a strong-willed teen girl who doesn't want her future decided for her like family and village tradition demand. She's faced with hard choices that have no easy answers. This is a great book for teens who like foreign settings, coming of age, and a rebel protagonist that challenges unjust customs.

About the Author

Suzanne Fisher Staples is the award-winning author whose novels for young adults include Haveli, the sequel to Shabanu; Dangerous Skies; and Shiva’s Fire. Before writing books, she worked for many years as a UPI correspondent in Asia, with stints in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.

From Publishers Weekly

Staples's first book is a beautiful portrayal of the life of a girl growing up among camel-dealing nomads in modern Pakistan. Shabanu knows the way her people, the Cholistanis, have always lived: a daughter abides by her father's decisions, a wife obeys her husband's wishes. Yet Shabanu is strong-willed and independent, and her mother warns, "Shabanu, you are wild as the wind. You must learn to obey. Otherwise . . . I am afraid for you." As the arranged marriage of Shabanu's sister Phulan approaches, and with her own wedding planned for the following year, Shabanu confronts her fear and apprehension. She scarcely knows the man she is expected to wed. What if she does not obey? Before the ceremonies take place, however, disaster strikes. Shabanu and Phulan, out alone and threatened with rape by a powerful local landowner, escape but humiliate him. In revenge, he kills Phulan's betrothed and threatens to cut off the family's water supply. As one condition for restoring peace, Shabanu must marry the landlord's older brother. With the help of a wise, loving aunt, Shabanu learns to curb and conceal her powerful will and channel it to bring her peace of mind. Staples's depiction of desert life is breathtaking. She employs vivid, lyrical metaphors to create the potency of the family's joys and struggles. Shabanu's thorny, poignant coming-of-age will capture the attention of readers young and old. Ages 12-up. 
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