A Girl Made of Dust: Book summary and reviews of A Girl Made of Dust by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi

A Girl Made of Dust

by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi

A Girl Made of Dust
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2009
    240 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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is slowly awakening to the shifting contours within her household: hardly speaking and refusing to work, her father has withdrawn from his family; her once-youthful mother looks so sad that Ruba imagines her heart has withered like a fig in the heat; and Ruba's brother is secretly meeting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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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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 can’t 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

The information about A Girl Made of Dust shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)

Contrasts
I was reminded of To Kill a Mockingbird while reading this novel. This is a child's view of her world and its day to day perplexities surrounded by a larger world of horrific events which intrude ever more painfully. Told in a deceptively simple style, the narrative draws in the reader with glimpses of family secrets waiting to be revealed.

Lucy B. (Urbana, Ohio)

Children of War
I read a lot, all types of books, and belong to a local reader's book club sponsored by an independent book seller in a mid-western small town. I felt the author did a good job depicting the life of an eight-year-old who is living in a country at war and who is surrounded by a family with secrets that she does not fully understand. I feel we tend to forget that the lives of young people are very much affected by the war of adults.

Janne V. (Greenville, SC)

A sad but ultimately hopeful novel
A Girl Made of Dust is a very moving story about a young girl in the midst of a war that she doesn’t understand. Told from her perspective, she is generally more concerned with the personal problems in her own family - her father’s withdrawal into himself because of something that is kept secret from her until late in the story, and the resulting tension between her parents and the increasing estrangement from her brother, whom she idealizes. The war gradually keeps getting closer and she is only then forced to truly acknowledge it, although she is as confused by the reasons for it as her family is.

The novel gives us an inside glimpse of the real effects of war on families, particularly children ,and it seems clear that the author has had some personal experience with this to describe it so vividly. It also shows us how easily it is for young boys to get swept up into the fighting and how their families might react to this. In many way, it is a poignant novel, but the author manages to finish the novel with a hopeful ending showing us how resilient young people can be. Overall, a memorable book that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

Barbara B. (Alta Loma, CA)

A Girl Made of Dust
A Girl Made of Dust is a captivating book bringing the invasion of Beruit in the 80's to life through the eyes of 8-year-old Ruba. Ruba is a very wise and observant child and seems old in many ways, but is very much a child in others.

I think this book would be great for book clubs, but more importantly for young adult readers as well. I really liked the way war affects all of the generations and the redemption that also can occur.

The characters each had so much to say and were all so likable. This book is really a great read.

Muneeb

A Girl Made of Dust
Good writing and good storytelling. Told from a child's point of view, war is a main character. A quick read, with lingering impressions.

Lola T. (Broken Arrow, OK)

A Girl Made of Dust
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Written from the viewpoint of a very young girl, this book is by no means a children's fiction book, but a look at conflict in Lebanon through the eyes of an innocent. This lens is at once frustrating (your grown-up brain wants this child to wise up!) and effective in evoking a feeling for this war-torn area of the world. The author is quite skilled in evoking the sounds of bombs, the tastes of the food, the heat, the beauty of flowers (roses, especially), the dust and the fear. For an unusual and very personal view of the war and the confusing political and religious divisions, I would say take a chance and read this book. It is not lengthy and you will come away with understanding as only a child give.

...11 more reader reviews

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More Information

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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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