Words in the Dust

by Trent Reedy

Author Trent Reedy, a U.S. Army reservist who served in Afghanistan in 2004-2005,... read more

Author Trent Reedy, a U.S. Army reservist who served in Afghanistan in 2004-2005, has penned a novel set during the first years of the U.S. war in that country and rich with the day-to-day details of young teen Zulaikha’s life. A chance spotting by a soldier leads to an offer by the U.S. Army to fix Zulaikah’s cleft lip and palate. And a chance meeting with an old friend of her mother’s leads to the woman’s offer to teach Zulaikah to read, starting with some of the classic Afghan poetry Zulaikah’s mother loved. Reedy’s story unfolds in Zulaikah’s voice, which vividly describes the people and events shaping her life. Zulaikah’s mother was killed by the Taliban for being an educated woman. Her father’s second wife is stern and demanding, but also, to Zulaikah’s surprise, an ally in her desire to get an education. And Zulaikah’s beloved older sister is about to be married—a match that is good business for her family. Zulaikah’s observations shed light on the difficult circumstances for girls and women in Afghanistan, and also reveal the challenging relationship between U.S. military personnel and Afghan civilians. Even with their well-meaning efforts and attempts to bridge the language and cultural gaps, the soldiers Zulaikah and her family interact with miss the mark so often, and the resulting disconnect is palpable in this vivid account of the people and events. (Ages 12–15)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2012

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