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The Shadows of Ghadames

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  166 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
This story about a Muslim girl bound by traditional Islamic customs but who yearns for something more explores women’s rights, freedom, religion, and identity.

In the Libyan city of Ghadames, Malika watches her merchant father depart on one of his caravan expeditions. She too yearns to travel to distant cities, and longs to learn to read like her younger brother. But nearly
Paperback, 118 pages
Published February 14th 2006 by Yearling (first published October 12th 2004)
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Leslie Medrano
Nov 12, 2016 Leslie Medrano rated it it was amazing
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Format: Chapter book
Award: Batchelder Award

Summary: This story is about a Muslim girl, Malika, who longs to travel and dream. Because of her culture, she is limited as a female to do much outside the home. One night, her second mother and her find a wounded man outside their home. They take him in to help him heal, while the men of the house are gone on a business trip. The women of the home, hide this secret from their neighbors. Malika becomes friends with Abdelkarim an
Mar 07, 2011 Maricor rated it really liked it
The Shadows of Ghadames by Joelle Stolz (2004)
Historical Fiction, 118 pages
Ghadames, a city in Libya near Algeria and Tunisia, is changing along with its customs and gender roles. Caught between the past and the future at the end of the nineteenth century, Malika, a girl on the brink of adulthood, is bothered by some of the cultural restrictions of women and yet scared of her unknown future and womanhood. Built on tradition and religious beliefs, Ghadames holds two unique cities—the streets belo
Judy Lindow
Nov 25, 2013 Judy Lindow rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This is the only historical story about this region and the culture in young adult literature, that I know of. The narrative paints a beautiful picture of life for women on the city roofs, the gardens, nature, rituals, beliefs, architecture, politics, and social mores - including details like the women's tattoos, the baths, the caravans. It is a coming of age story of a young north african, Berber girl at the turn of the century. A lot of the story describes how men and women treat each other, ...more
Jul 11, 2007 Vicki rated it it was amazing
Stolz, Joelle, (1999). Temerson, Catherine (trans, 2004). The Shadows of Ghadames. Delacorte Press.

At the end of the 19th century in the city of Ghadames in southern Libya, 11-year-old Malika’s life is beginning to change. On the brink of adulthood, she is no longer allowed to walk in public and is restricted to traveling on the rooftops of the city buildings. A mysterious stranger comes into the women’s lives while Malika’s father is away on business, and Malika’s respect for the women of Ghad
Danielle Witter
Dec 06, 2012 Danielle Witter rated it liked it
Shelves: awards
This book was interesting. I liked it because it was about a different culture.

Summary: This book is about a girl named Malika who lives in the Libyan city of Ghadames. She has just watched her merchant father depart on one of his caravan expeditions. She too desires to travel to distant cities, and really wants to learn to read like her younger brother. But she is almost 12 years old, and soon to be of marriageable age, Malika knows that— like all Muslim women— she must be content with a more s
Jori Richardson
When I started this book, I thought it seemed very promising because the author began by describing in vivid detail the fascinating setting of her book - 1800's Libya. Joelle Stolz certainly has a way with words and a talent for making an exotic setting come to life.
However, her talent stops there. Stolz may have a way with words, but she definitely does not have a way with plots, characters, or writing about things readers just may actually be interested in.
The characters are silly and badly wr
Holly Brown
Nov 27, 2012 Holly Brown rated it it was amazing
This is a historical fiction book that is set in the city of Ghadames, in southern Libya. The time period for this book is the late nineteenth century. This book shows the culture of the city during this time period. The book is about a girl named Malika, her family, and the traditions of these people.

I really enjoyed this book. It was very interesting to find out about the culture of these people during this time period.

I would use this book in my classroom to teach my students about the cult
Dec 23, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it
Coffee should be savored with your eyes shut, so that its subtle perfume spreads in your mouth and rises up to your nostrils." pg 72

"Womens bodies are like books; you have to know how to decipher them." pg 75.

This is the story of a Berber girl, Malika, who lives with her family in Ghadames. Her father goes on a journey, and his second wife takes in a strange man at night. Despite the customs of the time, and her mother's initial resistence, Abdelkarim teaches Malika to read. This book provides a
Zachary Zwijacz
Feb 23, 2014 Zachary Zwijacz rated it really liked it
Taking place in Ghadames, a Muslim child (Malika) about to become an adult will understand that her world is less constrained than she thinks it really is. With strong Libyan customs the men rule the streets while the women live on the connected rooftops. Though Malika has the freedoms of those rooftops she still yearns for more. Malika wants to be able to travel with her father as a merchant, to be able to read also to see what lies beyond the customs and of women and what the are suspected to ...more
Dec 01, 2008 Liane rated it really liked it
Genre: Junior fiction. Realistic.

Reading Level: Fluent

Topics & Themes: Women's life, rights, and regulations in Libya (Middle East). Coming of age story for Malika: secondary for her brother, Jasim.

Curricular Use: Independent.

Social: Introduction to other cultures' family structure: non-traditional family (for Americans) Husband has two wives.

Literary Elements: Conflict/tension of Bilkisu and Meriem, the two wives with different viewpoints of women's place. Meriem believes in a strict adhere
Amy Stipp
This book wouldn't interest guys much, I don't think. It's a coming of age tale of a girl at the end of the 19th century in Libya.
The beginning of the story we are introduced t her mom, her father, her half-brother, and her brothers mother, all of whom live together. She tells her story as though living with two mothers is delightful. We find later on that it has been a rough road for the two women to be married to the same man.
The author does a nice job explaining the traditions and customs of
Jen Bigheart (I Read Banned Books)
Read thui book for my Multicultural class. I enjoyed the overall story and theme, but there were issues. One, the story went along and then it was over. Ending seemed terribly rushed. Two, Malika refers to the stranger as handsome and feeling guilty about it several times. Malika is 11 and the stranger has a full beard and mustache. Is this normal? Was I to be freaked out? How old was the stranger? Seemed unnecessary. Lastly, the realization that womens roles were changing was far to convenient. ...more
May 11, 2010 K. rated it really liked it
Fascinating life of women in a Muslim city about 1900. Probably not "classic" material--but definitely a great little book that gives some insight into a completely foreign culture.

I gave it four stars because I'm not sure but that the author didn't put a little bit of modern "sensibility" into her characters--but what do I know, it just felt that way. It took away a little from the authenticity.

Wouldn't buy it, but it might be a runner-up for the girl's list. Totally a girl's book--can't imag
Sep 18, 2010 Ollie rated it it was amazing
This story takes place in the Libyan city of Ghadames at the end of the nineteenth century. The heroine, Malika, is dreading her twelfth birthday because according to Berber customs, she will be close to marriageable age and confined to the world of women. In Ghadames that means restriction to the rooftops, "a city above the city, an open sunny town for women only, where . . . they never talk to men."

Malika does not want to be isolated to the rooftops she longs to live beyond the city and to tr
Apr 19, 2008 Lora rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-lit
A great look into another culture. Even though this is historical fiction, it really doesn't read like it. It was really fascinating viewing another culture and in particular their view of women. It really brought up feelings and anger in me that I didn't know was there. I would love to teach this book in an elementary or middle school classroom. It just screamed curriculum integration to me. I enjoyed reading it.
Jan 23, 2011 Dotty rated it really liked it
At the end of the nineteenth century in Libya, eleven-year-old Malika simultaneously enjoys and feels constricted by the narrow world of women, but an injured stranger enters her home and disrupts the traditional order of things.

I liked the book. I really wanted the relationship with Malika and the young man to continue. Wouldn’t a sequel be nice to have the young man return when Malika is a bit older.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I liked this book for its depiction of the life of women in Libyan society at this time. Malika defies the order of society when she hides the stranger, thus violating numerous "laws". I imagine that such social restriction can be both smothering and comforting to women, and I admire those with the courage to defy it.

I especially liked how they traveled from rooftop to rooftop and did a lot of things on the roof. Made me wish my roof was flat!

Highly recommended!
L11-Mary Utterback
So far I am really enjoying this book. I am not normally into this type of literature, however this book was great! It was an easy read but reall ymade you feel for the main character Malika. She is a youung girl in Lybia, women have no rights, they are not to go outside or have an education. When her father leaves on a trip, a strange man is found wounded outside. When they try to save him Mlika realizes that this stranger is going to foever change her life.
Jun 16, 2012 Sensei rated it really liked it
I liked this book. It was an interesting coming of age story for a girl in 19th century Libya.

The only thing I really didn't like about the book was the ending. It felt rushed, and it left me with a lot of questions. It would be fine if there were a sequel, but since I haven't heard of one, I would have preferred more to the ending. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book.
Jan 02, 2010 Kristy rated it really liked it
Super interesting translated story that won the Batchelder in 2005. Set in the 19th century - The Shadows of Ghadames tells the story of a 12-year-old girl who is on the brink of womanhood and will then be quarantined to the rooftops of her Libiyan town with the other wormen. Beautiful - descriptive.
Apr 20, 2011 Jenny rated it liked it
Shelves: teen, historical
Malika watches her father leave on a trading caravan, leaving her mother, Bilkisu, the second wife, and her brother Jasim alone. A fugitive man is rescued and hidden on the rooftops, the world of women, who are forbidden the streets. What does the future hold for a girl restless behind the walles of Ghadames?
Sep 01, 2016 Laurel rated it really liked it
Recommended to Laurel by: Carolyn Hicks
This is not the type of book I would ordinarily pick up, but I found it compelling in taking you to another time and place where girls were worse than second-class citizens. I thought the author painted a vivid picture of the culture and history of the community and presented an empathetic character. Give it a try!
Feb 06, 2010 Ginger rated it really liked it
Set near the end of the 19th century, this short novel tells the story of a Muslim girl whose strong desire is to learn to read and write. The secret powers of women, granted by their seperation from male society, are explored in a little adventure the girl shares with her mother and her father's second wife. A strong title for girls.
Pat Knight
Jul 26, 2016 Pat Knight rated it really liked it
An interesting look at the life of a young girl growing up Muslim. The women of the town live restrictive lives. But in this town the rooftops are connected and the women are free to roam up there. The main character longs to travel and wishes she could learn to read. A stranger causes some changes in her life.
Jul 21, 2008 Andi rated it liked it
A sweet, quick little book about a girl growing up in the middle east. I found the author's 21st century attitudes were imposed upon the characters in the book. I found that slightly unrealistic and off-putting, but for the most part it's a good read.
Feb 18, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
I really appreciated that John wanted me to read this book; he has mentioned several times how much he is enjoying reading it with his class. There isn't a whole lot to the story, but the descriptions of the old city of Ghadames and the culture are really beautiful.
Paula Soper
Jun 18, 2010 Paula Soper rated it it was amazing
What a delightful little book! I learned about life in Libya at the end of the 19th century. Malika (nearly 12) learns more about the narrowed life of a woman in the city. Men walk in the streets; women walk on the flat rooftops of the city.

This book is a gem.
Feb 24, 2010 Coralie rated it really liked it
This was a sweet, easily read book about a young girl's life in Libya during the late 18th century. Nothing earthshattering, but a glimpse into another culture. This would be a good book for a less accomplished reader.
Kayla Copeland
May 02, 2013 Kayla Copeland rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. At first I thought I would be confused because it is a translated book, however, I was able to follow the story the whole time and enjoyed learning about another culture.
Becky Pliego
Read it to my 9yo girl. This is a good, realistic novel with a good story plot that helped me introduce and explain to my daughter some of the Muslim women's world at the end of the 19th century.
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