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Words In The Dust Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books; 1 edition (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545261252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545261258
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-Zulaikha's life in Afghanistan is not easy. She is teased constantly for a facial deformity and although the Taliban is no longer in power, it has violently taken her mother from her, and the 13-year-old is left keeping house for a busy, traditional father and his bad-tempered wife. She is trapped by the confines of her culture as well as by her own fears, but things begin to change when she meets a mysterious woman who wants to work with her on her writing and teach her about poetry. When American soldiers roll into town and offer her the chance to fix her cleft palate, Zulaikha allows herself to wish for a better and different future. Reedy was inspired by a girl he met during his tour of duty in Afghanistan, and Zulaikha's character is based loosely on her experiences. Infused with poetry, and wrought with hardship, the story gives a bleak, but ultimately hopeful, portrayal of girlhood in Afghanistan. It is full of hard truths, painful lessons, beautiful human interaction, and the promise of possibility.-Sharon Senser McKellar, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

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. Grades 5-8. --Gillian Engberg

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Well written interesting and poignant story.
Merrily La Scala
I was pleased at how well Reedy presents the hopes and desires of a girl from another culture.
Heidi Grange
Now typically kids read into a book like this only as much as they themselves know.
E. R. Bird

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ma Junlong on December 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Whatever your feelings on the war in Afghanistan "Words in the Dust" will make you think about this issue in a different way. While we, as Americans, view the war through the lens of politics or ideology, Reedy shows us Afghanistan through the eyes of a young girl named Zulaikha. While we debate war strategy and think of success in terms of the latest statement by General Patreaus or President Obama, Zulaikha hopes only for a chance to learn to read. While we obsess about transforming Afghan society on a large scale, this heartrending story shows the impact of transforming the life of one small girl.

This book reminds the reader that the war is not, as much as we like think it is, about us... it is about Zulaikha and the other children of this windswept and unfortunate country. If you are looking for a book that shows the challenges facing the average family in Afghanistan and paints a beautiful picture of their hopes and dreams you cannot do better than "Words in the Dust".
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A children's book, written by a soldier about an Afghani girl, set in the recent past. That's a toughie. There are a lot of easier books out there to review too. Why aren't I writing one about the adorable little girl who wants to be Little Miss Apple Pie or the one about the cute dog that wants to find its home? Well, sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone, which I suspect is what author Trent Reedy wanted to do here. With an Introduction by Katherine Paterson and enough backmatter to sink a small dinghy, Reedy takes a chance on confronting the state of the people of Afghanistan without coming off as imperialist, judgmental, or a know-it-all. For the most part he succeeds, and the result is a book that carries a lot more complexity in its 272 pages than the first 120 or so would initially suggest. Bear with it then. There's a lot to chew on here.

Zulaikha would stand out in any crowd. It's not her fault, but born with jutting teeth and a cleft upper lip she finds herself on the receiving end of the taunts of the local boys, and sometimes even her own little brother. Then everything in her life seems to happen at once. She's spotted by an American soldier, who with his fellows manages to convince their captain to have Zulaikha flown to a hospital for free surgery. At the same time she makes the acquaintance of a friend of her dead mother, a former professor who begins to teach her girl how to read. Top it all off with the upcoming surprise marriage of Zeynab, Zulaikha's older sister, and things seem to be going well. Unfortunately, hopes have a way of becoming dashed, and in the midst of all this is a girl who must determine what it is she wants and what it is the people she cares about need.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I just got finished reading Words in the Dust by, Trent Reedy.

In this book Zulaikha a girl that has cleft lip makes her discoveries in life. Being teased all her life and having the nickname "Donkey Face" she realizes more important things in life like her sister Zeynab's wedding and Meena's poetry. When she was a little girl her mother Samia was killed because she was hiding books and they were illegal in Afghanistan. She has a step mother who was mean to her. But only because she was reminded of her past when Zulaikha was around. Zulaikha was worked extra hard and was sent out a lot. This was how she meant Meena a friend of her moms.

My favorite part was when Zulaikha meets Meena because Meena is very kind and you can learn a lot about life from her. I felt that Zeynab's husband did not care about her. It makes me feel lucky about where I live. I normally read fantasy and this story was even better because of the way it was written and, also what it is about and the setting it takes place in.
I really enjoyed this book. I think you will to.
- Laura Wiklund
Age 12
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gramma on January 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Wow, what a great story. I was wrapped up in this girls life. I didn't want to put the book down and leave her in such a bad place. There have been only 3 books that pulled me in to the point that i missed the character when I finished the book.This is one of them. Great teaching tool for young people. A very real child in a real place with a life so different from theirs. I give it 5 Wow's.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Janelle Brazington on March 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In his book "Words in the Dust," author Trent Reedy brings the distant land of Afghanistan to life through the story of a young teenage girl afflicted with the disfigurement a cleft lip, which creates an obstacle to finding a husband. Her struggles with coming of age while being tormented by her peers makes her real while drawing the reader into her culture and religion. Her story takes place during the American occupation in 2005 and depicts American soldiers as having good intentions while not always knowing local customs. This story educated me about Afghan culture, the struggle of women under Taliban rule and traditional Islam , with a few surprising twists along the way. I would recommend this book for young adults and older. I couldn't put it down!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elaine M. Alexander on June 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My son and I read this book together. Not only was it a chance to explore a new culture and gain a greater understanding of the plight of the Afghani people, but it was an excellent means for us to discuss the huge differences that exist for children in different parts of our global community. This book held great meaning to us, not only for the tender connection between the two sisters, but for opening our eyes to the burdens of females in war-torn Afghanistan. Bravo, Mr. Reedy, for bringing us a well-written and thought-provoking book!
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