Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori (Emma, Shirley) brings the nineteenth-century Silk Road to lavish life, chronicling the story of Amir Halgal, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Coping with cultural differences, blossoming feelings for her new husband, and expectations from both her adoptive and birth families, Amir strives to find her role as she settles into a new life and a new home in a society quick to define that role for her.
Crafted in painstaking detail, Ms. Mori's pen breathes life into the scenery and architecture of the period in this heartwarming slice of life tale that is at once both wholly exotic, yet familiar and accessible through the everyday lives of the rich characters she has created.
This is technically set in nineteenth-century Turkey, but it might as well be modern Mongolia. That's why I read it, really. Reading a manga with yurts and lavish clothes and fermented mare's milk! I am reliving my trip last summer!
Anyway, it was very interesting in it's own right. The most obviously unusual part of the story is 20-year-old Amir's marriage to 12-year-old Karluk. And...they both seem pretty okay with it? I'm not against women marrying younger men, but the way their affection for each other alternated between romantic and mother/son felt a little squicky to me. But most of the time, they were actually super cute.
My favorite part was the day-to-day life of Karluk's large family, all living together. Little Rostum is maybe the cutest boy I've ever seen drawn, and his story of watching a wood carver felt very true and very funny.
I feel obligated to say that there was a page of nudity--non-sexual, but still--which was unfortunate, because it wasn't necessary. Otherwise, I would happily add this book to my library's collection. As it is, I think I'll just keep reading them on my own.
Four out of five lost lambs.
Release Date: May 2011
Reading Level: Grade 9+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: Not currently part of Dunlap's collection.