“Abi-Ezzi walks the delicate tightrope between man’s inhumanity and the power and strength family members must draw upon in order to survive. . . . In turn hopeful and despairing . . . Beautifully written, lyrical, with vivid, sensual descriptions that are sophisticated yet completely believable as experienced and retained by a child.” Publishers Weekly
A Girl Made of Dust
978-0-8021-4487-4 • $14.00 • Paperback • July 2010
The latest in a run of best-selling literary novels about children in politically turbulent settingsfrom Hisham Matar’s In the Country of Men to Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation to Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite RunnerNathalie Abi-Ezzi’s A Girl Made of Dust is a sophisticated exploration of one family’s private battle to survive in the midst of civil war.
In her peaceful town outside Beirut, Ruba is slowly awakening to the shifting contours within her household: hardly speaking and refusing to work, her father has inexplicably withdrawn from his family in favor of his favorite armchair; her once-youthful mother looks so sad that Ruba imagines her heart must have withered like a fig in the heat; and Ruba’s brother, Naji, has started to spend less time with Ruba in order to meet with older boys, some of whom carry guns. When Ruba decides that to salvage her family she must first save her father, she uncovers a secret from his past that will send her on a journey away from the safe fantasies of youth and into a brutal reality where men kill in the name of faith and race, past wrongs remain unforgiven, and where nothing less than courageous acts of self-sacrifice and unity can offer survival.
As Israeli troops invade Beirut and danger moves ever closer, Ruba realizes that she alone may not be able to keep her loved ones safe, and it is up to her father to shed the shackles of his past and lead his family to a better future.
A Girl Made of Dust is a coming-of-age story sparked, but not consumed, by violence and loss. This strikingly assured and poetic debut captures both a country and a childhood plagued by a conflict that even at its darkest and most threatening, carries the promise of healing and retribution.