Except for my friend E and the book The Golden Age by Kenneth Grahame. We've read certain chapters over and over, laughing and re-enacting our favorite lines. Apart from that, however, I hug these stories close so that they'll be appreciated.
Today I'm sharing one of those stories.
I am Buran, daughter of Malik, and the fourth of the seven female children born to him, and to his wife of holy memory, my mother Zubaydah. My father was called Abu al-Benat, the father of daughters, and the title was not considered an honorable one. Allah had not seen fit to bless him with sons, and all that happened afterward stemmed from that fact. O my children, the ways of Allah are beyond human understanding. What we imagine to be a blessing can actually be a curse, and what we suppose to be a curse may blossom into a blessing.
The marvelous chain of events about which I will tell you began one evening as I sat in the courtyard with my father, playing chess.
--From Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen & Bahija Lovejoy
Reasons I love it:
1. Buran's a middle child -- a child often overlooked in the family structure and therefore, able to "get away" with being the odd one out.
2. Her poor father -- burdened by his daughters' welfare. I can see him, smiling at his lovely daughters while secretly worrying how he is going to provide for him (somewhat reminiscent of other poor parents in stories who love their children but can't afford to take care of them, often prompting one of the children to be their savior)
3. What is "all that happened afterward"??
4. I instantly want to know how the blessing/curse through line will turn out.
5. "Marvelous" chain of events? Just how big will this story be??
The book is based on an Iraqi folktale and is one of my favorite re-imaginings. There's a gentleness, a mysterious Eastern quality and the comeuppance of the century (as well as a beautiful love story). It's a fantastic little gem that's rarely talked about.
Which books are you protective of?