I am pleased to introduce a fellow YA author from my home town Trent Reedy and his debut novel Words In The Dust. This story charmed and captivated me from the first few pages. I will soon be speaking with the author in a local cafe to ask him about his experiences in Afghanistan and his challenges in writing his novel. Meanwhile, check out the review of this book by School Library Journal, which begins...
"A children’s book, written by a soldier about an Afghani girl, set in the recent past. That’s a toughie. There are a lot of easier books out there to review too. Why aren’t I writing one about the adorable little girl who wants to be Little Miss Apple Pie or the one about the cute dog that wants to find its home? Well, sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone, which I suspect is what author Trent Reedy wanted to do here. 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.
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..."
The rest can be read on the SLJ blog: http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/afuse8production/2011/01/21/review-of-the-day-words-in-the-dust-by-trent-reedy/
Learn about how Trent Reedy and his publisher Scholastic are donating funds from the novel to Women for Afghan Women: http://onourmindsatscholastic.blogspot.com/2011/01/words-in-dust-5-questions-and.html