Synopses & Reviews
"This debut novel, written by a woman who experienced firsthand the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the 1980s, weaves the horrors of war with the love and devotion of family. Ruba is seven years old, living in a small Christian village outside of Beirut during the Israeli invasion. Her father is depressed and lethargic; her older brother, Naji, avoids the family, more interested in guns and the local thugs. As the conflict draws closer to the town, causing acts of inhumanity based on religious differences, Ruba learns a secret from her father's past that forces her to face the reality and cruelty around her. Abi-Ezzi walks the delicate tightrope between man's inhumanity and the power and strength family members must draw upon in order to survive. The book is beautifully written, lyrical, with vivid, sensual descriptions that are sophisticated yet completely believable as experienced and retained by a child. ('My bedroom smelt of cotton and books, Mami and Papi's room smelled of ironed sheets.') This disturbing, beautiful book, in turn hopeful and despairing, brings clarity and compassion to an untenable situation. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
[A] powerful, poetic debut novel . . . Ruba is a delightful and precocious narrator . . . [reminiscent of] Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. . . . Both graceful and wise, [A Girl Made of Dust is] a simple narrative that lets the pure vision of childhood speak for itself . . . [and] makes a reader wonder: If more Rubas found their voices, might there not be less war?”Marjorie Kehe, Christian Science Monitor
Abi-Ezzis exquisitely affecting debut novel, A Girl Made of Dust, not only conjures a fully-realized and vividly-populated world via the perspective of an eight-year-old girl, but adroitly plays on her ingenuousness to subtly convey its themes, namely the senselessness of religious conflict and the elusive importance of responsibility and forgiveness. . . . Abi-Ezzi portrays the inhumanity of the violence that devastated Lebanon without a tub-thumping agenda . . . Page-turningly suspenseful . . . A Girl Made of Dust is equally gripping as a poignant family drama and as a visceral depiction of living with war literally crashing on your doorstep. The local sounds, smells, and sights are astonishingly well-rendered, with transportingly-textured details that nevertheless are wholly convincing as the impressions of a young child.”Words Without Borders
In lean, lyrical prose, the author juxtaposes scenes of everyday pleasure with surrealist horrors to depict coming of age in the line of fire. Part folk tale, part reportage, this moving portrait achieves a dark poetry.”Kirkus Reviews
In her affecting and assured first novel, Nathalie Abi-Ezzi lyrically evokes village life in rural Lebanon during civil war.”Anna Mundow, Boston Globe
Subtle and unique.”Mary-Liz Shaw, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A testimony to survival.”Rebecca Starford, The Australian
Abi-Ezzi walks the delicate tightrope between mans inhumanity and the power and strength family members must draw upon in order to survive. . . . Beautifully written, lyrical, with vivid, sensual descriptions that are sophisticated yet completely believable as experienced and retained by a child.”Publishers Weekly
Abi-Ezzi deftly tells this story through Rubas eyes, allowing the reader to experience her loss of innocence as she learns of the complexities of the world. Highly recommended.”Library Journal (starred review)
Vivid and unflinching, A Girl Made of Dust portrays the deterioration of a family and a war-torn town from the perspective of a candidly charming and astute eight-year-old girl. Nathalie Abi-Ezzis prose is evocative, radiant and lyrical. This poignant and gripping debut virtually crackles with urgency and compassion.”Kiara Brinkman, author of Up High in the Trees
[A] haunting story that raises elemental global issues that are part of headlines today.”Hazel Rochman, Booklist
Captivating . . . A subtle, pertinent depiction of civilian life in the midst of bewildering conflict.”Catherine Taylor, The Guardian (UK)
I adored A Girl Made of Dust. . . . 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. . . . One of those books you can't help but think about long after you finish. A truly remarkable story.”Patricia Wood author of Lottery
A timely evocation of civilian suffering underneath the ubiquities of war, A Girl Made of Dust is, at its heart, a story of growing up and the terrifying things we have no names for in our childishness. . . . Abi-Ezzi portrays [Ruba's] awakening to the cruelties of life as both heartbreaking and profound, successfully eluding the clichés associated with the coming-of-age novel while simultaneously generously enriching its vocabulary.”Val Nolan, The Sunday Business Post (Ireland)
Her well-crafted first novel offers a moving insight into brutal conflict.”Melissa McClements, Financial Times
Abi-Ezzi's endeavour for perfection is as clear as the presence of her exceptional talent. She describes the world of her characters with a sharp eye for the slightest detail.”Jad El Hage, Al-Hayat
A Girl Made of Dust reflects the pain that haunts many Lebanese emigrants attached to the landscape and culture of home. . . . Never preachy or political, Abi-Ezzi makes the reader feel the impact of savagery in the civil war. . . . There is no hatred in this book, only the mystified wonder of a child reared on hope-filled religion. . . . A beautifully written, powerful anti-war statement . . . Ruba is a siren of hope in what could have been a nihilistic document.”Cecile Yazbek, author of Olive Trees Around My Table
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. . . . 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.”Ingrid Lamprecht, Socialist Review (UK)
Written with such maturity, it is hard to believe that its a debut. . . . This novel transplants us into the world of Ruba, a girl on the cusp of adulthood: a world where the threat of death is very real, the quest for survival strong. It also begs us to ask the question: what happens to those without the money or means to escape a war zone?”Jason Austin, readings.com.au
A subtle story of the civilian experience of war, as told through the eyes of a child. Its as evocative of family life as it is of conflict, but its real value is in bringing home that real people are livingor trying to livebehind the news headlines we see.”The Bookbag
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 Rubas 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. 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.
A coming-of-age story sparked, but not consumed, by violence and loss, 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.