Words in the Dust

Trent Reedy, Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-545-26125-8
In his first novel, Reedy, a former soldier in Afghanistan, examines the restrictive experiences of contemporary Afghan girls through sympathetic 13-year-old narrator Zulaikha. Zulaikha's cleft palate makes her an object of ridicule for local merchants, bullies, and even her younger brother. Although Zulaikha's disability often relegates her to a serving and observing role, it allows her more freedom to leave her home than her 15-year-old sister, Zeynab, who will soon wed. Contact outside Zulaikha's family provides compelling insights for Zulaikha, such as her ad hoc education by Meena, a professor who knew and taught Zulaikha's bookish mother (a proclivity that led to her death), and with the American soldiers who offer to operate on her lip and teeth. "Even with the swelling, I looked almost normal. And I had the Americans, as ignorant and wasteful as they were, to thank." Within the family, the evolution of key relationships presents a nuanced look at family dynamics and Afghan culture. Though unsentimental and fraught with tragedy, Reedy's narrative offers hope and will go a long way toward helping readers understand the people behind the headlines. Ages 9–14. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
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FORMATS
Book - 978-1-61587-873-4
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-0-545-26126-5
Compact Disc - 978-0-545-47282-1
Paperback - 333 pages - 978-1-84780-271-2
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-78101-031-0
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-306-41588-0
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