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A Girl Made of Dust by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi

A Girl Made of Dust

by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Some years ago at Tim’s Bookshop in Maling Road Canterbury (an excellent destination, BTW, for bookish Ladies Who Lunch), I picked this book up on a whim. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel from Lebanon before…

A Girl Made of Dust is a semi-autobiographical novel by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi who, like some of the characters in her story, moved to the safety of England in 1983 when Israel invaded Lebanon. She has written the novel from the perspective of an eight-year-old, but overcame my resistance to child narrators with a vivid story. This point-of-view enables the portrayal of the baffled dismay that many of us naïvely feel about religious hatreds, and, sadly, it also shows us how children adapt to living in war zones, and have no concept of living in peace. The novel also raises issues which, since the destruction of cultural artefacts by religious extremists, have become more topical than when the book was published back in 2008.

For Ruba and her older brother Naji, living in the village of Ein Dowra outside Beirut, the civil war means the rumble of shelling in the city, and they do not connect it with her father’s strange behaviour, which readers will recognise as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Papi (Nabeel) sits in his chair for most of the day, saying very little, leaving his shop closed and bringing grave financial and emotional stress to the family. The long-suffering women, (his wife and his mother), have had to make adjustments: they can no longer afford a maid so Mami (Aida) has had to learn to cook and iron (and isn’t very good at either). Mami also has to put up with being patronised by a former friend who takes pleasure in complaining about the servant problem and how difficult it is to pack her many possessions in preparation for her exodus to safety. While all around them families are leaving, Ruba’s friends among them, their family has no money and must take what comes.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2016/05/15/a-girl-made-of-dust-by-nathalie-abi-ezzi/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jul 17, 2016 |
Synopsis: Set in Lebanon, 8 year-old Ruba is forced to grow up quickly during the 1982 Israeli invasion. Her father refuses to open the shop and instead sits in his armchair all day, her 10 year-old brother Naji has been acting suspiciously and hanging out with tough older boys and many of her classmates have fled the country.
My Opinion: This is one of those books that does not focus solely on a plot - instead it tells of the day-to-day life of Ruba. It is a quick read and gives an interesting perspective of war from the point of view of an 8 year-old. ( )
  Moniica | Nov 6, 2010 |
SEPTEMBER 2010. Beautifully written fiction with the tragic impact of the Lebanon-Israel 1982 civil war told through the eyes of a 10 year old girl. Such strength of spirit and strong family values displayed by the some of the characters. Very refreshing. ( )
  libraryinfoservices | Oct 27, 2010 |
A Girl Made of Dust is set in Lebanon in 1982 during the Israeli Invasion. I enjoyed this coming of age story because of its simultaneously naive and wise protagonist, Ruba, and because I know so little of this country and the invasion. The plot line was simple, a family secret that is slowly explained and resolved during the course of the book, and the characters sweet. What intrigued me was the hints of conflict glimpsed only by the corner of the reader's eye: Maronites, Greek Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Sunni, Shi'a, and Druze all living cheek to jowl; the confusion by the Lebanese as to whether the Israeli invasion will help remove the Palestinian terrorists or simply cause unwanted war; the destruction of Beirut and the killing of civilians by both sides. These oblique topics intrigue me to read more about the history of the region, even though they are not the focus of the book per se. ( )
2 vote labfs39 | May 31, 2010 |
This is a beautifully written novel that is, I think, suitable for both children and adults. The author is able to show the horrors of war without compromising the authenticity of the child's narrative voice -- and that's a very delicate balancing act. She was also able to let the reader know what was going on without being overly didactic -- I know NOTHING about Israel's invasion of Lebanon, but I could get just enough from this book to be able to understand the story, and it made me curious to learn more. ( )
1 vote meggyweg | Mar 13, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nathalie Abi-Ezziprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hoekmeijer, NicoletteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"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" -- from publisher's web site.… (more)

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