Words in the Dust

Words in the Dust

eBook - 2011
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Winner of the Christopher Medal and a "heart-wrenching" Al Roker's Book Club selection on the Today Show.
Zulaikha hopes. She hopes for peace, now that the Taliban have been driven from Afghanistan; a good relationship with her hard stepmother; and one day even to go to school, or to have her cleft palate fixed. Zulaikha knows all will be provided for her--"Inshallah," God willing.
Then she meets Meena, who offers to teach her the Afghan poetry she taught her late mother. And the Americans come to her village, promising not just new opportunities and dangers, but surgery to fix her face. These changes could mean a whole new life for Zulaikha--but can she dare to hope they'll come true?
Publisher: London : Frances Lincoln Children's, 2011
ISBN: 9781781010310
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 volume)


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litriocht Jun 17, 2014

Debut author Trent Reedy was inspired to write this story after serving as an American soldier in Afghanistan. One of the elements for Newbery consideration is "presentation of information including accuracy, clarity, and organization." As revealed in the back matter, Reedy has diligently researched the lives of women in Afghanistan. This research, in combination with his personal experiences, provides a powerful and seemingly authentic backdrop for Zulaikha's story.

Reedy does not shy away from hard-hitting issues in this novel. Domestic violence, arranged marriages, and verbal abuse are among the many problems that women in this society may face. Zulaikha finds a way to overcome obstacles such as these as she learns to serve both her family and herself.


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. To my mind 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.

grey_koukla Jun 05, 2012

Trent Reedy has told a heart- wrenchingly beautiful story. Zulaikha is a brave and steadfast heroine, who evolves into an independent and mature young Afghani woman. The setting is so real that I could feel the intense heat and tension of An Daral, Zulaikha's small village. The book genuinely changed me and touched my heart. I highly recommend it!!

Apr 19, 2011

This book is inspiring and well written.If you like books with fictional
plot lines,but things simalar are
really happening,you should read this book.

missmarcy Apr 08, 2011

beautifully written story set in Afganistan Cleff palate fixed by american soldiers. girl seeks to find her future....wife or student of literature and teacher.

good for YA readers

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Jul 04, 2016

indigo_bird_270 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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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.

Apr 19, 2011

This book is about an afghan girl
living with her father,stepmother
and brothers and sister.She has a
cleft lip, and envy's her older sister
Zeynab' beauty.She meets an elderly woman named Meena. Mee -
na knew Zulaihka's mother and
offers to teach her how to read and
write. Zulaihka soon finds the passion her mother had for poetry
and words.but when American
soldiers come to afghanistan, they
offer Zulaihka a surgery to fix her
cleft lip.


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Frightening or Intense Scenes: Readers should be aware that there is a very intense scene when a character close to Zulaikha is horribly burned and in the hospital.


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Aug 11, 2014

I have to respect my elders

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