cover image Paradise of Shadows

Paradise of Shadows

Gloria Whelan, . . HarperCollins, $15.99 (295pp) ISBN 978-0-06-089028-5

Once again, National Book Award winner Whelan (Homeless Bird ) whisks readers to another time and place to experience history in the making. In 1907, Julia, a sheltered British 16-year-old, accompanies her father to the Middle East. Julia’s father often travels abroad “to get or trade or give away bits of land and sometimes whole countries” for England’s Foreign Office, and he views the trip as drudgery, but Julia considers it an adventure. The heroine gets far more excitement than she has bargained for when she and other members of her tour group—all of whom have hidden agendas and differing political views—are placed in a variety of dangerous situations. Besides exploring magnificent landmarks and cultures in Istanbul, Damascus, Palmyra and the deserts in between, Julia learns to see thorny political problems, the corruption of officials and the questionable motives of her fellow travelers. The author wisely refrains from passing judgment on various factions represented by characters. Instead, she remains focused on Julia’s widening perspective and her struggles to determine whether her loyalties lie more with her conservative father or with a radical Young Turk. Rather than providing pat answers, this meticulously researched novel, denser than some of the author’s previous works, raises questions about conflict resolution, rebellion and oppression. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)