Synopses & Reviews
Sixteen-year-old Julia Hamilton is restless. Determined not to be left behind again—stuck in the cold house where her mother died ten years earlier, with only her dreams to keep her company—Julia begs her father to take her with him on his next expedition. When he unexpectedly agrees, Julia is intrigued. Will this be her chance at adventure and romance?
Traveling across the sands of the ancient world known as the Levant, Julia meets a French antiques collector, a British horticulturist, and a dashing young student—each harboring secrets as elusive as a mirage.
As she learns more about her companions and the dangerous world she's in, Julia must decide whom she can trust . . . and what she is willing to fight for.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This satisfying read is a romantic adventure in the best tradition by a master of such stories. Julia is a believable product of her time." School Library Journal
"Once again, National Book Award winner Whelan (Homeless Bird) whisks readers to another time and place to experience history in the making....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." Publishers Weekly
"The plot is suspenseful...sleeping in tents in the desert, riding camels, being attracted to the wrong guy, and so on. YAs who like historical fiction will enjoy Whelan's carefully researched work. The cover looks suitably Middle Eastern, with the silhouette of a train crossing a desert promising an adventure." KLIATT
"Whelan is known for atmospheric, international scene setting....Many teens, however, will be ensnared by the travelogue details, from an Orient Express train ride to a camel caravan from Damascus to Alexandretta, and they will enjoy Julia's eye-opening moments of "romanticism colliding with reality." Booklist
This engaging tale of the Ottoman Empire prior to World War I...has clear historical lessons for today's readers about greed and meddling in cultures without understanding them....Whelan has crafted yet another fine work of historical fiction with a likable and strong-willed heroine. Kirkus Reviews
"[Whelan] carries it off with a whirl of intrigues, betrayals, attempted murder, and of course, romance that should render teen readers oblivious to the fact that they're also getting a crash course in Middle Eastern history." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
About the Author
National Book Award-winning author Gloria Whelan weaves rich historical detail into this compelling mystery. Ms. Whelan is the bestselling author of many novels for young readers, including Homeless Bird, winner of the National Book Award, Parade of Shadows, and Listening for Lions. She lives in northern Michigan.