Street of Storytellers by Dough Wilhelm ***A YA Multicultural Thriller - Spotlight - Excerpt - Giveaway***
Street of Storytellers
by Dough Wilhelm
But his father badly wants his son to understand -- so he brings Luke to Peshawar, an age-old crossroads city in Pakistan’s North West Frontier. To punish his dad, Luke refuses to learn anything about the project; instead he’s drawn into the strange, intriguing Old City, where a frightening new extremism is on the rise.
Luke is dazzled by Danisha, but in the city’s strict Pashtun culture they can’t ever be seen together. He’s recruited by her brother to assist the jihadis -- but he also bonds with Yusuf, an Afghan refugee who knows what could happen. Then there are the musicians Luke befriends, and a mysterious Sufi teacher who opens his eyes.
Street of Storytellers is intensely suspenseful. It’s about three families across two cultures ... about two world religions, Islam and Buddhism ... about music, Western and Eastern ... and about how modern extremism affects ordinary families. It’s about an ancient true story the world has almost forgotten. And it’s about learning to think for yourself, even if that puts your life at risk.
Early evening of Monday, December 17, 1984
Peshawar, capital of the North-West Frontier Province
MY DAD GOT US SEPARATE ROOMS. (I’d have thrown a fit if he hadn’t.) We were on the second floor of the hotel. My room was simple and narrow, with light blue walls and a window at the end that had wooden shutters, closed.
There was a bed, a dresser, a wooden desk and a chair. Out of my backpack I took my new, black-and-red Walkman cassette player and silver Toshiba headphones, early Christmas presents from my mom. I set them on the desk beside the red cassette case, size of a kid’s lunchbox, with my twelve best tapes inside. I looked around the room—it seemed clean, which was a relief—and thought, Okay. I can stay in here the whole vacation if I have to.
Because I had decided something. My dad had me over Christmas vacation, it said so in the divorce, so he could force me to fly with him halfway around the world to this weird place—but he couldn’t make me do anything here if I didn’t want to. What could he do, send me home? He had zero leverage at this point. So I had decided: I would not go anywhere, or do or see or learn anything, that had anything to do with the Great Goddamn Project.
He wanted me to understand, but I already understood. My dad’s obsession with his project had wrecked my family. I would have nothing to do with it.
He didn’t know this yet. But he would find out.
The Great Goddamn Project, or G.G. Project for short, was what my mom started calling it after my dad had been so obsessed for so long with working on his book about some lost civilization over here that my mom finally gave up on the marriage and moved out. Now we lived in a little apartment, her and me, except for every other weekend, when I had to hang around our old house where my dad kept on typing and typing behind the locked door of his home office, barely even aware I was there.
There was a door between my room and his. Stuck in it was a big old-fashioned key. I went over and turned the key; the door locked with a thunk. I pulled hard but it held solid. I stood there and smiled.
Guess what, Dad?
The lock’s on my side now.
As a young journalist in the early 1980s, Doug left his newspaper job to spend two years in Pakistan, India and Nepal. He traveled, wrote, taught English and worked on what he originally planned as a nonfiction book about his experiences, which years later grew into Street of Storytellers.
Doug’s other books include three more young-adult novels, a biography of Alexander the Great for young readers, and 10 books for the Choose your Own Adventure series.