What do I have in common with a 12-year-old child under incredible stress, pulled by duty and torn loyalties? On the surface, not much. But when I finished the book I realized that I was completely on board with Hathin as she tries to keep her sister safe while also seeking revenge. I admire her intelligence and creativity. And I completely understand her struggle with her own identity and value.
To create a character who is both so different from the reader, and yet so like us at the heart, is something to strive for. To be able to tell that character's story in such an lyrical manner, rooted in a whole world of superstition and tradition, is an absolute God-given gift. That's a gift I always pray for.