Words in the Dust
by Reedy, Trent






Zulaikha, a thirteen-year-old girl in Afghanistan, faces a series of frightening but exhilirating changes in her life as she defies her father and secretly meets with an old woman who teaches her to read, her older sister gets married, and American troops offer her surgery to fix her disfiguring cleft lip.





Trent Reedy is the author of Divided We Fall, Burning Nation, and The Last Full Measure, a trilogy about the second American Civil War; If You're Reading This; Stealing Air; and Words in the Dust, which was the winner of the Christopher Medal and an Al Roker's Book Club pick on the Today Show. Trent and his family live near Spokane, Washington. Please visit his website at www.trentreedy.com.





Born with a cleft lip, Zulaikha struggles to feel worth in a society that values women by their marriage prospects: "What bride-price would Baba get for me? Maybe one Afghani?" Then, by chance, Zulaikha meets Meena, a former professor, who begins to teach her to read and write just as American soldiers arrive, bringing the chance for both more education and surgery to correct Zulaikha's birth defect. Reedy based his debut on real people and places he encountered while serving with the National Guard in Afghanistan, and the extensive detail about Afghani customs gives the story the feel of a docu-novel while also creating a vivid sense of place and memorable characters. Reedy skillfully avoids tidy resolutions: the grim fate of Zulaikha's sister, who is married to a much older man, offers a heartbreaking counterpoint to Zulaikha's exciting new possibilities. A glossary of Dari phrases, an extensive author's note, suggested-reading lists, and an introduction by Katherine Paterson complete this deeply moving view of a young girl caught between opportunity and tradition in contemporary Afghanistan. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.





A contemporary 13-year-old Muslim teen's life changes profoundly when American forces arrive in her war-torn Afghanistan village. Born with a cleft palate, Zulaikha's tormented by boys calling her "donkey-face," adults averting their eyes and an insensitive stepmother. With marriage unlikely, Zulaikha secretly learns to read and write, emulating her birth mother, who was murdered by the Taliban for keeping books. As the Americans build a village school, Zulaikha's father wins a construction contract and arranges a marriage for her beloved sister with a wealthy older man. When the Americans fly her to Kandahar for successful reconstructive surgery, Zulaikha finally looks and feels normal until family tragedy strikes and she realizes "normal" isn't everything. Drawing from personal experiences in Afghanistan, Reedy creates a multidimensional heroine who introspectively reflects on how to "be patient enough to forget all the ugliness and focus on . . . good things" in an oppressive culture where women are undervalued. An inside look at an ordinary Afghanistan family trying to survive in extraordinary times, it is both heart-wrenching and timely. (pronunciation guide, glossary, author's note, notes on Persian poetry, recommended reading) (Fiction. 9-13)

Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.






Terms of Use   ©Copyright 2020 Follett School Solutions