Reedy, Trent. Read by Ariana Delawari. Words in the Dust. Scholastic Audio, 2012. Audiobook.
image from: www.amazon.com
Summary (from audiobook overview)
"This story, written by a former American soldier, features an Afghan girl named Zulaikha who dreams of learning to read, marrying well, and living a peaceful life. Narrator Ariana Delawari reads with a slight lisp to reflect Zulaikha’s cleft palate. Delawari’s narration strongly conveys the timidity and strength Zulaikha has developed from living with this defect, the constant hard work of her life, and the loss of her mother when she was very young. Moving fluidly between English and Dari, as does the story itself, Delawari’s performance captures Afghan customs and the challenges of rebuilding a society that has lived so long with war and oppression. This insightful and moving production concludes with interviews with the author and the narrator. A.F. © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine"
I bumped this up on the list to listen to because there was a downloading glitch, and I wanted to make sure I had the entire book (good thing I listened, as indeed, I didn't have the entire book downloaded).
This is Zulaikha's story (a young girl in Afghanistan). She deals with hardships. Even though the story is grim in places, I did find laughable moments. This book just gives me another layer of learning about Afghanistan and Afghan culture.
There are 22 chapters. The narrator did a great job creating different voices for the characters. I appreciated the theme of education being so important. I couldn't help but think of Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, which I taught a few summers ago to Upward Bound students. I know about the controversy with that book, but what I still agree with is the theme that NO ONE can take away your education! I liked that Zulaikha was not only learning letters and words, but she was also learning about her mother and comes to understand her step-mother.
I'm so glad that I made sure I had all of the files on the download. I would have missed part 7, which is the end of the story, of course, but there were also two "interviews" included by Trent Reedy, the author, and Ariana Delawari, the reader. I enjoyed both "behind the book" conversations and perspectives they give. It really completed the story (and I wondered if these are included in the print version).
This book is more a "middle grade" read than high school partly because of the age of Zulaikha and partly because of the simplification of the "hard issues" involved with the story.