Monday, October 02, 2006

Seven Daughters and Seven Sons

Okay, I'm down to almost the last of my backlog. Unbelievable as it seems, I'm running out of really fabulous books. I've read a lot of good ones, but there's not many that have that special spark that make me want to talk them up to the world (or at least, as much of it as reads this blog).

Any suggestions? Leave them in the comments!

Fortunately, I do have this one. . .

Book: Seven Sons and Seven Daughters
Author: Barbara Cohen and Bahaji Lovejoy
Published: 1982

Malik, known as Abu al-Banat because he has no sons, does have seven daughters. In the city of Baghdad, this is a terrible misfortune, made worse because he has no money to give them dowries. To make things worse, Malik’s brother (who has the massive fortune of seven sons and a thriving business), refuses to help out by either providing dowries or allowing his sons to marry their cousins, and mocks Malik’s misfortune. It looks as if the seven sisters are doomed to a life of poverty and/or unhappy marriages. Unwilling to accept this fate, the fourth daughter, Buran, comes up with a plan that might save them all. But to do it, she has to leave home, travel as a boy, and make her way as a merchant in eleventh-century Iraq.

On her journey, Buran discovers a real head for business and a flair for making money. She also meets and befriends Mahmud, the prince of Tyre. But when he finds his feelings deepening into more than friendship, he begins to put poor Buran through a series of tests to see if she is a man or woman, and even he’s not sure which outcome he wants. Is happily-ever-after in the cards?

This book sucked me in right from the start. It retains enough of the storyteller’s flavor about it (it claims to be based on an Iraqi folktale) to make it feel like a fairy tale, but I found myself caring very much for clever, pragmatic Buran, her beleaugered family, and even the spoiled prince Mahmud, who shows promise under the influence of Buran. Divided into three parts, each with its own distinct storyline, it still follows a nice narrative line. Check out the final part for the most glee-inducing (and fairy-taleish) elements, when Buran gets her revenge on the seven male cousins who rejected herself and her sisters at the very beginning. It also shines a light on a culture very little understood in the west. I found this at the library, but I've just gotta get my own copy of this great tale of a girl who makes her own happy ending. Where’s the fairy godmother? Who knows? Who cares?

10 comments:

Kelly said...

Sounds great! Thanks for the review :)

Anonymous said...
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gail said...

What about Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury? I just read yesterday that he has a sequel coming out called Farewell Summer. I'm thinking of rereading Wine before trying the second book.

It's not really children's or YA, but Dandelion Wine would probably fall into that category of adult books for teen readers.

gail said...

Oops. Sorry about all the bold type in the last post. Clearly I made an HTML error.

natalie_eve said...

That does sound good. I want to read it now. :)

Azamiko said...

I loved this book. The trouble is, I found it in my library, like you, and I don't think it's still being published...Difficult to find offline.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the review that does the story justice!about 6 years back i went to an international book fair and by luck,i managed to buy a copy of the book.i was probably about 12 or 13 years old when i read the story and i absolutely enjoyed it.6 years on,i suddenly felt the urge to read the book again.am in the process of doing that now and now that im older,i realised that i notice more things than i did when i was younger.this is how a truly great book is,no matter how many times you read it,you can always find something new.=)

Diana said...

I've read this book when I probably around 11 or 12. I loved this book so much that I read it four times! To think that this story is unknown to most people, it gives me a different outlook on the Iraqi culture. Now that I'm an adult, I want to own the book and read it again!

Anonymous said...

i was wondering if anyone knows what a rayyis is. im doing this book and this isin the vocab.

Anonymous said...

I loved this book. It was assigned in our English class, but I would've read it for pleasure anyway.