Zahara like Sahara

Zahara like Sahara.

This is the first line of Joanne C. Hillhouse’s new young adult novel Musical Youth.

Zahara is the name of the female protagonist and this is the rhyme taught to her when she was a child. The name is lovely, intriguing. It has an African feel to it and a distinct musical lilt, which is fitting. Musical Youth’s Zahara shares her name with a South African singer-songwriter, poet, and brand ambassador for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. Perhaps young Zahara’s mother was a fan of the South African musician. Whether this was the case or not, the name is fitting as Zahara turns out to be a boss guitarist, singer, and song writer even as a teenager.

The name is fitting on a more basic level. Apparently it is of Arabic and Hebrew origin, and means “flowering; shining”. Readers will judge for themselves, but when you read Musical Youth and you are swept along on Zahara’s journey from wall flower to stunning guitarist, those words, “flowering and shining” may seem like the perfect description for this intriguing young lady.

What do you think of the name? Any questions for the author on her choice?

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