Words in the Dust

by | Read by Ariana Delawari

Published by Scholastic Audio

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?

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AudioFile Review

Words in the Dust

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

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