Title: The Beduins’ Gazelle
Author: Frances Temple
Major Themes: Ancient Arabs, Romance, Young Adult Historical Fiction
Synopsis: Halima looks forward to the day when she can finally marry her betrothed, but when he is taken away and she is lost in a sandstorm, is all hope gone?
The Beduins’ Gazelle is a touching story of two young people who dearly love each other, but the political powers of the day seem to make their love an impossible dream. I loved the glimpse into the rich Arabic culture through this story—something that we don’t often come across. Before I read this book, I had known there were desert tribes back in the day (and probably still are today), but understanding a little portion of how they lived was something I really appreciated from the story.
Halima, daughter of the sheikh of the Beni Khalid, is betrothed to her cousin, Atiyah. Then their uncle Saladeen—whose only agenda is to increase the caliph’s power over the desert tribes—comes to take Atiyah to the city of Fez to “learn the wisdom of the ulama”—the religious council. Halima can hardly bear the thought of being separated from Atiyah for twelve moons, but it cannot be helped—he must go and learn, even though he hates the very idea of being stuck in a city, away from the desert and way of life that he loves.
Then, soon after Atiyah is taken away, they have to move again—and in a sudden sandstorm, Halima and her camel are hopelessly lost without food or water in the immense desert. After a day of wandering in the endless sand, she gives up hope—but by a miracle, she is saved from the desert’s grip. After being taken in by a tribe of Shummari—a tribe that has often fought with her tribe in the past—the sheik of her new home decides he wants to take her as another wife. She still wholeheartedly loves Atiyah and hopes desperately that he will find her. Time is running out—with only three months before the wedding is to take place, will Atiyah find her in time? Does he even know she is lost? And in the great sand sea, will he ever be able to track her down?
The Beduins’ Gazelle is definitely a romance book. In my opinion, there is a bit too much there, but the fact that we know so little about the ancient Arabic way of life makes it a bit more acceptable. You will have to decide for yourself whether or not it is acceptable to read.
WARNING: There is lying throughout the book. Pages 53–54 have a short description of a woman in labor, and page 100 has a bit of a description of a woman’s body. Like I said above, there is also a strong thread of romance—mostly (if not always) just thoughts about the other person.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above