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?
PW called this Newbery Honor book about a Pakistani girl a ``thorny, poignant coming-of-age'' novel. ``Staples's depiction of desert life is breathtaking. She employs vivid, lyrical metaphors to create the potency of the family's joys and struggles.'' Ages 12-up. (Oct.)