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Monday, March 2, 2015

Shahana by Rosanne Hawke

Shahana is a very different book to the other teenage book I read last week. The first book, The Piper, is a fairly simple supernatural tale. Shahana is not a complex story, but the characters feel like real people and it explores real life problems and issues. It is set in Kashmir and is all about child exploitation and the effects on families of living in a war zone. The story is told through the eyes of a teenager who has lost her parents and has to look after her younger brother.

The eponymous Shahana gets to know two men a few years older than her who are both reluctant militants, and in their own way are just as much victims of the conflict as she is. The novel basically raises awareness of the victims of this conflict but at the same time hints at a better future: the Kashmiri villages may be cut off from much of civilisation but the Internet allows them to connect to the rest of the world and highlight the suffering they are being forced to go through. I award it 6/10.

Dorking Library now have another book of the week so I have returned to I have Bookcase 12 to try and tick this case off. The latest offering to been chosen by the library is The First Wife by Emily Barr.

It's about a woman who lived in more or less total isolation with her grandparents until they died and then is forced to make her way in the world. It's a book which is probably more targeted to men that women but the whole point of this exercise is for me to transcend boundaries and target audiences of books. The teenage books have both been worth reading, I won't be rushing to read more like them, but they have helped be reconnect a little with young people. Maybe The First Wife will offer something that I might not have anticipated?

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