Title: The Beduins’ GazelleThe-Beduins-Gazelle
Author: Frances Temple
Pages: 150
Reading Level: 12 & up
Star Rating: ★★★

A story of love and kidnapping set in the sands of the Middle East.

The Story.

Halima has been pledged to marry her cousin, Atiyah since they were both of them babies, and she is glad. Glad to be marrying her handsome cousin, her loving friend. Life could not be better for her, living as she does in her father Essafeh’s tribe where all is rich and warm.

But suddenly, Halima’s life changes. Atiyah, her own Atiyah, is being sent to attend a great university in Fez. He will not return for an entire year. And, when Essafeh’s tribe migrates to find a place of more water, Halima is separated from the caravan and captured by an enemy tribe whose ruler wishes to marry her.

Will Atiyah return in time to rescue Halima from Raisulu?

Discussion.

The Beduin’s Gazelle is a story of the desert in style, story, and religion. Allah is thanked, praised, and invoked. Superstitious legends are told and mythical creatures – dhabi, ghouls, ins, djinns, and majnun – are referenced. Islamic wise sayings are quoted (i.e. “the future is one with the past and is in the hands of Allah”), and doctrine discussed. The entire reason that Atiyah is sent to Fez is so that he can learn the teachings of the prophet and  bring that knowledge home to his tribe that they may please Allah by their obedience.

When Halima is captured by Raisulu, she is horrified to learn that he wishes to add her to his harem. Saffiya assures her by telling her that she has three months in which to plan an escape because “It is written in the Book that a man may not take a new-bought concubine or foreign woman to wife until she has been in the care of his women for three full moons, that he may know that any child she bears will be his own.” [pg. 107] Halima is shocked at the suggestion that she might be with child, saying, “It is not as if I were a bought concubine, having belonged to another!” [pg. 107]

Halima’s uncle, Saladeen comes to visit the tribe of Halima’s father, Essafeh. Essafeh dislikes Saladeen for many reasons and his distaste is passed down to his children who refer to Saladeen in less than respectful tones.

Halima loves and pampers her younger siblings, telling them stories whenever they request to be entertained.

Halima’s father also is said to have had multiple wives.

Halima hears a camel’s “sudden, loud death cry” when its throat is slit.

Halima and Atiyah sing a song in which they refer to camels as “our brothers”.

A polite lie is told and a tale is told that features a lie as its chief point of amusement.

Conclusion. An interesting story of devotion and honor, but one which needs discussion.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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