The House of Djinn by Suzanne Fisher Staples.
Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux: NY, 2008.

Shabanu's daughter, Mumtaz, is now of marriageable age. Shabanu is in hiding, presumed dead. Mumtaz has been raised by her father's family. Baba, her father's brother, is the patriarch (since Rahim's death) and one of Mumtaz's only friends within the family. The other is her cousin Jameel, her closest confidante, who has been raised mostly in California with only summer trips to Pakistan.

Baba's health is failing, and Shabanu is preparing to contact her daughter with the intention of bringing her away, so they can both live in the desert with Shabanu's aunt. As in Haveli, Shabanu's primary purpose is to secure the safety and happiness of her daughter. She knows that Leyla, Mumtaz's older half sister, is nearly ready to arrange a marriage for Mumtaz, one she would most certainly not be happy about.

When Baba dies suddenly, his wish is revealed that Jameel become the tribal leader and Jameel and Mumtaz marry. Both have been educated in a more modern environment, and the hope is that their values will strengthen the family. This comes as a total surprise to everyone. Jameel and Mumtaz are not prepared for the idea, and a greater question is whether Nazir, the brother who killed Rahim, will accept Baba's will or use the transition as an opportunity to wrest control for himself.

All three books in the series deal with both the conflict between Islamic and tribal traditions and personal desires. A central theme is arranged and unwanted marriages. Each have strong female characters-Shabanu, Zabo, Selma, and Mumtaz. What is different about this book is that the reader knows it takes place in the present. The books span about a twenty year period, but the other two are so traditional that it is not easy to tell that they are contemporary. Also, Mumtaz's proposed wedding is not necessarily unwanted, she and Jameel just had other plans and were taken by surprise. Each book is unique and has its own appealing aspects, but they are also connected in some basic ways. I enjoyed each for itself. I still think Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind is the one I like best. Perhaps, because Shabanu is freer and hasn't become resigned to her life.

related-Pakistan, family life, gender roles, traditions, freedom to choose, weddings, tribal leadership, spirits, strong female characters

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