Parade of Shadows

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Parade of Shadows Book Poster Image
Historical, intriguing mystery-adventure-romance.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

There is lying, spying, and thievery throughout the book. Underhanded bargins and politics are experienced as well as customs labeled as barbaric. Some sexism related to societal expectations of the day. Examples of courage, faith, and honesty.


Some characters fear for their safety and face imprisonment in Turkish prisons, which are described as "horrific." A man is poisoned, but recovers and there is talk of a woman being stoned to death.


Budding romantic feelings between two people with hand holding. A woman will be stoned because she had a relationship with someone other than her husband. The exact type of relationship is not revealed.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book, set in the Middle East of old, presents some vastly different ideas about women's roles than readers are accustomed to. A woman is sentenced to a stoning for having a relationship with someone other than her husband; the stoning is not described, but we know when it will take place. There are also threats of violence and imprisonment, and someone is poisoned but survives.

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What's the story?

Julia is 16 and full of romantic ideas, or at least her father thinks so. When she impulsively asks to go along on one of his many trips abroad she is shocked that he says yes. \ \

A chance at adventure and romance is all Julia can think about as she sails off to places she's only known from maps. \

What Julia didn't plan on is everyone she has come in contact with has a hidden agenda, including her father. What will she do when she finds herself caught up in romance, danger, customs and cultures so very different from her own?

Is it any good?

National Book Award winner Gloria Whelan tells a classic, enjoyable tale of spies, mystery, adventure, and romance in PARADE OF SHADOWS. Whelan's pace throughout the book mirrors the pace of teen heroine Julia's adventure. At times the book speeds through the ancient streets of the Ottoman Empire. Other times it plods along through the desert. Even when the pace slows down, the layered characters and glimpses at their hidden agendas keep things interesting.

Even though Julia is rather sheltered, she begins to catch on to the true nature of almost everyone -- though at times readers will jump up and down in frustration at her moments of blind trust. Readers will never want her to feel too comfortable since suspense and suspicion are everywhere. As a bonus, Parade of Shadows is peppered with detailed historical references. It's kind of like a sneaky history lesson disguised as fun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about other cultures and which customs are different from or similar to their own. Why do you think gender roles differ so much in different cultures, even today? Parents can also talk about the importance of family and communication. Why did Julia feel estranged from her father?

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