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Trent Reedy grew up in Iowa and has always loved telling stories. He majored in English at the University of Iowa and paid for his course by joining the Iowa Army National Guard. Called up to serve in Afghanistan in 2004, he experienced bad feelings both about the war and leaving his wife and home. Then, after reading Katherine Paterson's novel Bridge to Terabithia he started thinking about writing for young people. One of the children he encountered in Afghanistan was a young girl named Zulaikha, who had suffered since birth from a cleft lip. A U.S. army doctor gave her corrective surgery, and Trent was inspired by Zulaikha's quiet courage and dignity. The last time he saw her, he promised that he would tell her story. Returning to Iowa in 2005, he taught English before taking a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing for children and young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. He now lives with his wife and dog Wiggles in Washington State, where he is hard at work on his second book.
One of our New Gen Debuts of the Year 2011. A touching and thought-provoking story set in contemporary Afghanistan, Words in the Dust uncovers how the lives of women and girls are changing. Zulaikha, a younger sister born with a disfiguring cleft palate, captures the details of the life of drudgery of herself and her older sister Zeynab as they help their step mother look after the house and their younger brothers. Growing up under the Taliban, these girls have had had no chance of education; instead they think only of making a good marriage. But, the arrival of the American soldiers brings huge changes. Can Zulaikha’s face really be fixed? And can she have an education? So much suddenly seems possible. In contrast, Zeynab’s marriage, arranged by their father and thought to be a great opportunity, goes horribly wrong.