Words In The Dust by Trent Reedy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sweet and caring Zulaikah is the second-oldest girl in her large family. They live in a small village in Afghanistan—a country that places a lot of importance on marriage prospects for their children. For Zulaikah, this reality is hard to take because she has a cleft palate, which makes her less desirable for a match in marriage. After watching her sister get married to an older wealthy man, Zulaikah wonders what her life will become other than helping to raise her younger siblings and doing chores.
Things change completely when two things happen: first, when American soldiers arrive in their village, one of them notices Zulaikah’s mouth and offers her father the chance for her to have free surgery to fix her problem; and second, when she meets a former university professor in her village who offers to teach Zulaikah how to read and write. All of a sudden, her future is looking much brighter—but will her father allow her to follow her dreams?
This is an excellent book. It’s fascinating how different a teen girl’s life in Afghanistan is from a teen girl’s life in the United States—but there are also many similarities, too. Those who enjoyed this book might also like Where the Streets Had a Name (Abdel-Fattah) and Jungle Crossing (Salter).
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