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Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
Laila and the Sands of Time by Shirin Shamsi is obviously designed for middle-grade readers but it is a gem of a book for readers of all ages and of all faiths. Laila is a young Muslim girl whose mother died when she was just a baby. She grows up with her doting father who tries to instruct her on the teachings of Islam. When she reaches her teens, her father remarries and Laila finds herself unhappy with a stepmom and a baby sister. To make matters worse, her father soon died from an illness. In grief and missing her father a lot, her rebellious nature surfaces but a pilgrimage to Mecca with her aunt and uncle will turn her life around, and Laila will never be the same again.
Shirin Shamsi's Laila and the Sands of Time is a delightful middle-grade novel that is both informative and entertaining. And for non-Muslims like me, this book is an exciting eye-opener on the teachings of Islam. Author Shirin Shamsi succeeds in weaving a tale that lets her readers experience a young Muslim girl's life in Chicago and life in 7th century Mecca and Medina, and it is an exhilarating experience. For Laila herself, the adventure is life-changing as she faces the desert's many dangers, and gets the chance to do a good deed for a mother totally scared about her baby daughter's future. Fast-paced, picturesque and straightforward, Laila and the Sands of Time is equally enjoyable and educational. This book is a must-read for readers of all faiths!