Monday, October 14, 2013

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy

Hardcover, 286 pages
Published January 1st 2011 by Arthur A. Levine Books 
In the tradition of SHABANU, DAUGHTER OF THE WIND and THE BREADWINNER, a beautiful debut about a daughter of Afghanistan discovering new friends and opportunities after the defeat of the Taliban.

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?

I must admit that this book has been on my shelf for a while and I haven’t read it. Why? I have no good excuse for you…especially now that I have read it! After reading Torn by David Massey, I knew that this book must be my next. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time not only because of the powerful story that was written, but because of the knowledge that I gained about the Afghan culture and people through Trent Reedy’s words.

Zulaikha was born with a cleft lip and when she is spotted by the American soldiers who come into her village, they make every effort to help her fix her lip. This is only the surface level of the story. Zulaikha’s life is full of many trials and tribulations that impact her life that we (as privileged Americans) will never comprehend. I loved that my eyes were opened to a whole other culture and way of life. As I am cleaning my house now, I will not complain about what little I have to do in comparison to the young women like Zulaikha. Every emotion from rage to heartbreak was brought out of me through this novel. At one point, I was scared that I was going to completely melt down in front of my students as we were all reading. Can you imagine those parent phone calls? “My son told me you blubbered about a character in a book. Are you sure you’re okay?!” Haha!!

This summer I read a book called The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam which had a profound impact on me and opened my eyes to other cultures that are often labeled as “terroristic” because of something that people from their nation choose to do. I loved in the “Author’s Notes” Reedy pointed out how he had a view of the people from Afghanistan as being the evil monsters who terrorized and attacked our nation. However, when he went to the villages to help these people, he realized that there was a difference in the “dangerous groups like the Taliban and the typical, peace-loving Afghan people” (p. 253). It is through books like this and the many others that are out there that over privileged American’s like me can learn to distinguish between the two as well.

Happy reading….

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