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is slowly awakening to the shifting contours within her household: hardly speaking and refusing to work, her father has withdrawn from his family; her once-youthful mother looks so sad that Ruba imagines her heart has withered like a fig in the heat; and Ruba's brother is secretly meeting 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 propel her into a brutal reality where men kill in the name of faith and race, past wrongs remain unforgiven, and where only courageous acts of self-sacrifice and unity can offer survival. As Israeli troops invade Beirut, 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. Seen through the eyes of an eight year old girl living in Lebanon, this poetic debut captures both a country and a childhood plagued by a conflict that even at its most threatening, carries the promise of healing and retribution.
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"This disturbing, beautiful book, in turn hopeful and despairing, brings clarity and compassion to an untenable situation." - Publishers Weekly
"Part folk tale, part reportage, this moving portrait achieves a dark poetry." - Kirkus Reviews
"Starred Review. Abi-Ezzi deftly tells this story through Ruba's eyes, allowing the reader to experience her loss of innocence as she learns of the complexities of the world." - Library Journal
[A] haunting story that raises elemental global issues that are part of headlines today. - Booklist
"Abi-Ezzi's captivating tale about three generations of one family living through the 1980s Lebanese civil war is based on personal history ... A subtle, pertinent depiction of civilian life in the midst of bewildering conflict." - The Guardian (UK)
"Nathalie Abi-Ezzi's debut novel, A Girl Made of Dust, is a timely reminder of the agonies thousands of Lebanese families had to go through during the years of the Lebanese Civil War ... Through Ruba's worries about her family, Abi-Ezzi skillfully introduces the reader to a life in fear of bombs and stray bullets, as well as to how new hope can be born from affliction." - Socialist Review (UK)
"I could not put this down - A Girl Made of Dust is at once tender and tragic and Nathalie wonderfully evokes that transient aspect of childhood where everything is possible. It is a book that begs to be re-read ... [and one] you cant help but think about long after you finish. A truly remarkable story." - Patricia Wood, author of Lottery, short-listed for The 2008 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction
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Born in 1972 in the Metn region of Lebanon, Nathalie and her family moved to England in 1983 when Israel invaded Lebanon. She won the Radio 4 Dotdotdot short story competition in 2001. She is the author of The Double in the Fiction of RL Stevenson, Wilkie Collins and Daphne du Maurier (2003) and has co-edited various books. This is her first novel.
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