Wednesday, October 26, 2011

into the dust and heat

Zulaikhu, an Afghan teen, was born with a cleft palate. She has been the butt of cruel jokes from the enighborhood boys and pitying glances from the shopkeepers and even family members. In WORDS IN THE DUST by Trent Reedy (Scholastic, AAL 2011), readers meet Zulaikhu and her family. Her sister is promised to someone in marriage; her younger brothers are pretty much pains to keep track of, and her stepmother sometimes treats her as a servant. But Zulaikhu somehow manages to sustain herself. One day, her life changes when she meets a woman who offers to teach her to read and write. And then the best news of all: the Americans have offered to repair her cleft palate. Could Zulaikhu's life be about to change? <535>

Reedy offers some insight into the day to day life for Afghans living somewhat uncomfortably with the Americans who are occupying their country. He allows the characters to voice the sentiments, varied as they are, about the Taliban, the new government, and the odd customs of the American soldiers. Zulaikhu and her family are not archetypes or stereotypes; they are salt of the earth Afghans who are trying their best to live a good life. There are precious few books, especially for teens, set in this country. Reedy's offering is one that needs to be shared.


  1. It would be interesting to see things from "their side" and get a better understanding of the impact the American occupation has had on the lives of the Afghan children. I wonder if Trent Reedy spent time there to learn their true thoughts and feelings?

  2. I would really like to read this book. Before enrolling in the LS program, this is not a book I would pick up. However, after having read Persepolis, I'm am very intrigued by how the events unfolding in the Afghan part of the world affect the citizens living there. Their world is so different than ours and our perceptions of the life the people live are tainted by the media and perhaps our own prejudices.

  3. I would like to read this book. I agree with jmb, like Hereville and Persepolis I'm sure that this book would give the reader a different perception of life in Afghanistan.

  4. LS5385
    This sounds like a great story to read. I hardly get to see books in relation to women in Afghan. Like is tough for them anyway you see it and it would be an interesting book to read to further understand this country and their women.