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The House of Djinn by Suzanne Fisher Staples
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The House of Djinn

by Suzanne Fisher Staples

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The 3rd book of a trilogy, I would definitely have had a better understanding of the characters had I read, Shabanu, first. This made me go back to read Shabanu, which cleared up a lot of my questions. I needed to read this book for long chunks of time, so I spent a 4 hour subway and bus ride completing the book. I was completely engrossed in it as Suzanne Staples did an excellent job expressing the conflicting emotions that the characters felt. Due to the fact that many of the names and terms were foreign to me, I did need to create a family tree and list of vocabulary in order to better understand the story, although Staples does include a glossary at the back of the book. ( )
  Nhritzuk | Nov 29, 2010 |
Book talk:
Though it took me a few chapters to really enjoy the first book in the series, Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind, by the end of the book I really cared about what was going to happen to 12-year old Shabanu as she was promised in marriage to someone four times her age. And I cared even more about Shabanu while reading the sequel, The Haveli. I am nowhere close to being a writer, but I know what was missing from this book. Though I liked the main characters, the author didn't make me really care about them. In The Haveli, when Shabanu could not be with the person she loved, I felt a sadness that lingered even after finishing the book. But I never got wrapped up in Muti's feelings about her tennis instructor, and I only felt a little more involved in Jameel's feelings for Chloe. What a shame, because the world these characters live in is so different from mine that living in it for a short time helped me know more about myself. That said, I'm still glad I read it because I liked hearing more of Shabanu's story, even if it wasn't enough of a story to really satisfy. ( )
  lnommay | Oct 16, 2010 |
Suzanne Fisher Staples could have, and certainly has in the past, done better.
The storyline here is - A young girl in modern Pakistan is struggling to find her place in a world where family life is a battle, and Islamic traditions confuse and frustrate her. Her life takes a shocking turn when she discovers that her mother Shabanu, supposedly dead for years, is actually alive, her beloved grandfather falls ill, and her place in the family is reversed.
"The House of Djinn" never captured my attention, save for small snippets here and there that richly describe the setting of exotic Pakistan. However, a handful of sentences peppered through this book are far from enough to save it.
I disliked it - the characters are defined on the surface, and then left. For example, Leyla is immediately depicted as cruel, selfish, conniving. And stays that way. Not that this is bad, but I felt that the author didn't think she needed any character development.
Also, the plot was a mess.
The supposed villain of the book, Nazir, is built up (though, not well) through-out the story as an impending threat. The author describes him as "a tiger without teeth." However, besides being mentioned a few times, he never appears until the end of the story. And in fact, the main character faints during the time that Nazir actually emerges, and is only briefly told about it after she wakes up. Nazir never even speaks once in this entire book, and is barely mentioned. This makes him the weakest opposing character I have ever heard of.
Another character who could be called a villain, Leyla, is a cruel woman who finds joy in humiliating the main character, Mumtaz, into being her servant. She is built up a bit more, and certainly far more prominent than Nazir. However, toward the end of the story, she simply vanishes. There is no conclusion to her and Mumtaz's struggles.
The entire storyline was incredibly weak, jumped from focus to focus, and was ridiculously blunt and abrupt.
Lastly, I felt cheated by the ending. Through out the story, Mumtaz's mother Shabanu references the pain that her arranged marriage caused. She loved another man, who also loved her. He too was forced to marry someone else, unhappily. Arranged marriage is portrayed as hurtful, and the reader simply assumes that the author does not support it.
So, I was very surprised when, at the end...
**SPOILERS**
...It is arranged that Mumtaz will be married to her cousin. Both of them have crushes on other people, and neither of them wish to marry. At first, they rebel against their family's decisions. They even attempt to run away.
It seemed apparent that Staples was sending a message - old traditions must give way to new, and forced companionship can never rival true love and freedom.
But then, suddenly, within a few pages, Mumtaz and her cousin decide that actually, their family is right. Without warning, their views change, they follow the arranged marriage, and honor tradition.
The ending seems more like the end of a chapter than the actual end of the entire book - not because the author used a cliffhanger (that would have taken away another star from this book, so I am glad that the author didn't try that "Buy my next book!" trick here) - but because it simply wasn't... Conclusive. I said to myself "Okay... What now?"
This book had an entirely unsatisfactory ending, a message that made absolutely no sense, and one of the weakest supposed villains ever.
Not recommended - read "Shabanu" instead, but don't bother with this sequel. ( )
4 vote joririchardson | Feb 8, 2010 |
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In memory of Mona Megalli, the world's best traveling companion, 1958-2007
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A small, slender woman with dark eyes stood near the edge of the roof looking out over the walled city of Lahore and reimagined her life.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374399360, Hardcover)

It has been ten years since Shabanu staged her death to secure the safety of her daughter, Mumtaz, from her husband’s murderous brother. Mumtaz has been raised by her father’s family with the education and security her mother desired for her, but with little understanding and love. Only her American cousin Jameel, her closest confidant and friend, and the beloved family patriarch, Baba, understand the pain of her loneliness. When Baba unexpectedly dies, Jameel’s succession as the Amirzai tribal leader and the arrangement of his marriage to Mumtaz are revealed, causing both to question whether fulfilling their duty to the family is worth giving up their dreams for the future.

A commanding sequel to the novels Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind and Haveli, The House of Djinn stands on its own. Suzanne Fisher Staples returns to modern-day Pakistan to reexamine the juxtaposition of traditional Islamic values with modern ideals of love.

The House of Djinn is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:23 -0400)

An unexpected death brings Shabanu's daughter, Mumtaz, and nephew, Jameel, both aged fifteen, to the forefront of an attempt to modernize Pakistan, but the teens must both sacrifice their own dreams if they are to meet family and tribal expectations.

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