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Reviewed by:
  • Karen Coats
Staples, Suzanne Fisher; The House of Djinn. Foster/Farrar, 2008; 207p ISBN 978-0-374-39936-8 $16.95 R Gr. 7-10

Ten lonely years living hidden away on the roof of her husband's family's Pakistani haveli is enough for Shabanu. Even though Nazir, her would-be murderer, remains a danger, she decides that she must risk his wrath to let her family know she is still alive. Her timing is fortuitous, as things are about to change dramatically for Mumtaz, the daughter she left behind when she staged her own death. Baba, [End Page 496] Mumtaz's doting grandfather, suffers a stroke; his death opens the possibility that Nazir will attempt to take over as tribal leader. Baba's plan, however, is for Jameel, Mumtaz's cousin and best friend, to assume that role and marry Mumtaz in the bargain. As Jameel and Mumtaz attempt to flee their future, a violent incident forces them to reconsider their duty to family and the future of their land. As she did in Shabanu (BCCB 10/89) and Haveli (BCCB 11/93), Staples transports readers into a land that is at once foreign and familiar, as matters of culture and family collide with matters of the heart. Shabanu, Mumtaz, and Jameel will certainly engender empathy as they chafe against their circumstances; both Mumtaz and Jameel, who has been reared in America and is not at all sure he wants his new position, have fallen in love with unsuitable partners, making their arranged marriage all the more poignant. Their ultimate decision reflects an ideology that will likely seem strange to American readers, but Staples' careful and sensitive handling of cultural difference makes their actions and motivations accessible and even laudable. Although this is the third in a series, enough context is given so that readers who have not read the first two books can catch up quickly, and the emphasis on teen characters assures appeal; deft handling of plot, setting, pace, and character will make readers want to read or revisit the entire series.



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pp. 496-497
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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