Not the most uplifting of endings, but still an interesting read. Life was like that - IS like that, in the Pakistan, Afghanistan, India region. Lots of details of daily life and daily struggles. Although the ending is realistic, I'm not entirely sure the personality of the title character is.
But then, I've never been there myself. I only know of one Afghani girl - a former student, ten years old when she was in my class, and had been in the country for about five years - but she was pretty spunky as well.
Warning: not a book for impatient readers - I skimmed over the second half. Phulan, Shabanu's older sister is quite annoying.