Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book Recommendation: WORDS IN THE DUST by Trent Reedy

I first heard about WORDS IN THE DUST while I was researching Mr. Reedy’s agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, and then I rediscovered it a few months ago, when his editor, Cheryl Klein, wrote a blog post about the day the manuscript landed on her desk (or rather, on her e-reader). I’m glad Ms. Klein reminded me.

Mr. Reedy’s debut novel relates the tale of Zulaikha, a young girl from Afghanistan who was born with a cleft palate. The boys in her village call her Donkey Face, and when her younger brother takes to calling her the same, Zulaikha loses hope for a normal life. But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when a convoy of American soldiers see her face and offer to fly her to a nearby military base for surgery--and when a wise old woman in her village helps her see that she has worth for who she is, not for what she looks like.

Mr. Reedy served a twelve-month tour of duty in Afghanistan as part of his service with the National Guard, and while living and working in a small village in western Afghanistan, he discovered a young girl named Zulaikha with a cleft palate. The setup of WORDS IN THE DUST, then, is almost autobiographical, but Mr. Reedy filled in the details with a rich, intricately woven tapestry of characters and story.

I saw the movie adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s THE KITE RUNNER and then read A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS not long after, and I must say, as powerful as I thought those stories were (especially THE KITE RUNNER), the grittiness of the subject matter was, at times, truly gut-wrenching--too gut-wrenching for me to recommend in good faith. For that reason, I appreciated Mr. Reedy’s child’s-eye view of Afghanistan, which painted a picture of the country--its beauty, its ugliness, its normal everydayness--in softer strokes.

If you’re looking for a good read with memorable but realistic characters and a culture both similar to and different from our own, definitely give this one a try. And if you’d like to learn more about Mr. Reedy and his experiences writing this book, check out his website at trentreedy.com.

P.S. This has nothing to do with WORDS IN THE DUST (except that it's also about exciting new books), but if you'd like to win a preorder for one of three wonderful new books coming out this year, check out Myrna's contest. You have until tomorrow to enter!


Esther Vanderlaan said...

Sounds interesting.

Oh and thanks for the reminder about the contest :)

Krista V. said...

You're welcome, Esther! As always, thanks for dropping by.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Wow, wow, wow. This is a must-read for me, I think. My Olivia was born with cleft lip and palate. Eventually I would like her to read this book, maybe when she's a bit older.

Thanks for the tip, Krista!


Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Krista. It looks excellent, and I love that it's based on a true story.

And thanks for linking to my contest.

Monica B.W. said...

I'm adding this to my TBR pile, esp. after now, that I'm finishing THE KITE RUNNER, and so far I think Hosseini is my favorite author! :D

Krista V. said...

Amy, have you already read WORDS IN THE DUST, then? I thought of Olivia as I read it. I'd definitely give it a few more years, though, as the older sister's storyline deals with some more mature themes.

You're so welcome, Myrna! On the one hand, I want as many people as possible to read and follow your blog. But on the other, I want to win, so the less competition, the better;) (And I do think you'll like WORDS IN THE DUST. You'll have to tell me what you think after you read it.)

Monica, Hosseini's prose is beautiful, and his storylines are gripping. The movie adaptation of THE KITE RUNNER had me in tears more than once. The story is both heartbreaking and redemptive.

Michael G-G said...

I love Words in the Dust too, Krista. (And also reviewed it on my blog.) Thanks for getting the word out about this special novel.


Krista V. said...

Glad you liked it, Michael. And thanks for adding your seal of approval:)