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A Girl Made of Dust

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  315 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Eight-year-old Ruba lives in a village outside Beirut. From her family home, she can see the buildings shimmering on the horizon and the sea stretched out beside them. She can also hear the rumble of the shelling - this is Lebanon in the 1980s and civil war is tearing the country apart.
Paperback, 236 pages
Published 2009 by HarperPerennial (first published December 1st 2008)
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A Parish of Rich Women by James BuchanWild Mulberries by Iman Humaydan YounesA Girl Made of Dust by Nathalie Abi-EzziLife as a Leb-neh Lover by Kathy ShalhoubA Stranger at the Door, and Other Lebanese Short Stories by Touma Al-Koury
Books Set in Lebanon
1st out of 12 books — 3 voters
Koolaids by Rabih AlameddineDe Niro's Game by Rawi HageThe Hakawati by Rabih AlameddineA Game for Swallows by Zeina AbirachedYalo by Elias Khoury
The Lebanese Civil War in Literature
9th out of 59 books — 10 voters


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Community Reviews

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Kinga
Dec 02, 2011 Kinga rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Khaya
The problems with child narrators is that they need to be authentic, because the reader wants to believe the story is told by an eight year old but at the same time the reader doesn't want to feel that the book was actually written by an eight year old. Here lies the catch-22, the book needs to be told by an eight year old but written by an adult.

Many authors resort to writing simple sentences and just dumbing down everything but that's not the way, of course. Nathalie Abi-Ezzi didn't fall into
...more
Meaghan
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 ...more
Jeremy
Nathalie writes as an 8 year old living her live in a town near Beruit. She sees the war and the terror as an 8 year old would not understanding why her friends are having to leave or why her people turn against another. And ponders on the strange way her father behaves -the family know, but won't tell her. She sees her older brother slowly getting sucked into the dark world that surrounds them. The book ends as the shelling gets nearer and nearer to their home and they all huddle together in fe ...more
Ronni
some people are calling this book "a coming of age story," but i'm calling it a page-turner. the *only* thing that ever took me out of the story was the occasional heavy handed and unrealistic dialogue between the eight year old narrator and her ten year old brother. otherwise, the book is great all around. two unexpected delights in this book, entwined but distinct, are the narrator's imagination and the author's descriptions of the surrounding geography and flora & fauna.

while set in a chr
...more
Nick
"A Girl Made of Dust" starts with a deceptively slow pace. After all, it is narrated by the eight year old girl Ruba. Its power accumulates deliberately and relentlessly. The novel takes place during the early eighties outside Beirut. The slow beginning colors in the portrait of a family already in crisis over the nervous breakdown of the father whose shop feeds it. Rufa's family is Christian but not biased against Muslims; one of Ruba's friends in a Muslim boy. As the violence intensifies, the ...more
Katie Lynn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy
Ruba, an eight-year-old Lebanese Maronite Christian girl is of an age where she is becoming more aware of family tensions, as well as being concerned with real and imaginary childhood issues such as the taunting of her Muslim friend, Karim at school, and her belief that a neighbor woman is a witch who must have put a curse on her depressed father to cause his nearly immobilized condition.

Her older brother, Naji is spending less and less time playing with her as he falls in with some older boys w
...more
Rita
Dec 09, 2011 Rita marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Kinga:

civil war in Lebanon

The problems with child narrators is that they need to be authentic, because the reader wants to believe the story is told by an eight year old but at the same time the reader doesn't want to feel that the book was actually written by an eight year old. Here lies the catch-22, the book needs to be told by an eight year old but written by an adult.

Many authors resort to writing simple sentences and just dumbing down everything but that's not the way, of course. Nathalie
...more
Marina Zala
* books 95 - 2014 *

buku ini saya berikan rating 2,7 dari 5 bintang.. tema yg diangkat sevenarnya menarik mengenai kisah suatu keluarga yg bertahan hidup di era 1980an dimana Beirut dilanda perang..

cuma sayang alurnya terlalu lama dan membuat cepat bosan membacanya.. apalagi ini diambil dari sudut pandang ruba, gadis kecil berusia 8 tahun yg harus hidup di jaman ini..
Stephanie
A fictional story of the Israeli and Palestinian invasions into Lebanon, told from the point of view of an eight-year-old Christian girl, Ruba. The story is told completely from her observations of what is happening to her family and her village. Her father has changed, never works, just sits in his chair. Her uncle has a mysterious job in Beirut. Her friend Karim is Muslim, and why would that matter? Her mother is voicelessly unhappy with the situation. Her grandmother is the rock of the family ...more
Hagar
A tender narrative, this is how I felt it. Magical through the eyes of a little girl, who doesn't understand war, doesn't understand labels, differences, sadness, and just wants to lift the curse. It is not about who started the first gun shot, but how we reached this in Lebanon, how to survive this.
Ella
De oorlog in Libanon beleefd door de ogen van een 10-jarig meisje. Het boek is autobiografisch en speelt zich af in een klein dorp vlak bij Beiroet. Een getraumatiseerde vader, christenen en moslims,een door kogels gewond broertje, vroegere liefdes en ruzies zijn de ingrediënten. De familie is later gevlucht naar Engeland.
Mooi geschreven.
Colleen
This story takes place in Lebanon during the 1982 Israeli invasion where we see the war through the eyes of an eight-year-old girl and are invited into her innocence. It is beautifully told: "[t:]he hot sky had bleached itself white and cicadas hummed back and forth, back and forth, as if they were sawing the trees. Teta had said once that each time they stopped a person had died, but they didn't stop often.." By the end of the book, as the family hudles in their home, their once peaceful Christ ...more
Cathy
A child narrator is a hard act to pull off, but it works very well here. Beautiful, small book about childhood, war, and family. It's very gentle given what's going on (the Israeli invasion of Lebanon), and Abi-Ezzi's voice is wonderful. It made me think a little of the film The Spirit of the Beehive, another version of a child surrounded by events she doesn't quite understand. And I thought the resolution, which really explored the implications of the title, worked perfectly.

I bought this more
...more
Sarah
An impressive debut novel. I had some difficulty getting into this, but once I was in Ruba's world I did not want to leave. Abi-Ezzi does an excellent job of revelaing the stories of the other characters in bits and pieces through her young narrator. Ruba's relationships with the other characters reveal a great deal on how children percieve the world and events around them.
I often enjoy having a child narrator, but the challenges of trying to figure out what was really happening with the adults
...more
Carla
A bittersweet coming of age story told through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl in Lebanon. I read one reviewer who claimed that the narrator was awkward and forced, but I found her believable and engaging. I suspect he (the reviewer) had never been a little girl, so maybe that was his problem. At any rate, the descriptions of war-torn Lebanon (or any country ravaged by war) and the differences of attitude between Christians, Muslims and Jews, even within the family, seemed to come from a perspect ...more
Sam
Glad I picked this one off the shelf to read! The author does an incredible job of taking you on a journey through the eyes and mind of a young girl living outside Beirut during the civil war in Lebanon.

Just like Pasternak's "Dr. Zhivago", this story begins with a series of threads that seem jumbled rather than connected, but as the book goes along the threads begin to wend together into a vivid and climatic ending that pulls it all together.

Definitely hoping Ms Abi-Ezzi will write another fic
...more
Sheridan
Narrated by 8 year old Ruba, this book tells the story of a Lebanese family during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the 1980's. It's not so much a story about war as it is a story about a family surviving and loving despite difficulties and circumstances beyond their control. Beautifully written and very engaging. A satisfying tale. The author, a Lebanese woman who grew up through these same events, captures the observations and insights of young Ruba with great thoughtfulness.
Carla
Overall, I liked this book. It's about a girl living through the Lebanese Civil War, so it's got some heavy topics. Certain parts of this book were confusing, but I think that it was meant to be that way since the story is from the point of view of an eight year old. One thing I didn't like though was that the book ended suddenly; I thought it would've been better if there was an epilogue from an older version of the narrator so the story could have some closure.
Amanda
I enjoyed this read because of the hope in spite of the reality of war. Placed during the 1982 War in a small village outside of Beirut, the main character is an 8 year old girl, and her perspective is refreshingly honest as she views the world around her - her family, her village, and the people who cross her path. Heart-tugging, but not a devestating kind of read; more hopeful and promising despite loss and pain.
Andy Remeis
This was an easy read about the hardships of life in a war torn country. It was refreshing to see the life of this family thru the eyes of Ruba, who is 8, as she grapples with tensions within her family and religious bigotry in her country. Now if I can just get my daughter to put down her wonderful fantasy books by Tamora Pierce and Rick Riordan for a bit, she can take a look thru Ruba's eyes too!
Patty
This book was written with feeling and the desire to tell the world about her homeland. Abi-Ezzi obviously was deeply affected by the war in Lebanon.

Unfortunately she was not able to make me feel her emotions and experiences. I could not find a connection to her characters. I am sure that there are readers who will find this book fascinating. I had hoped to be one of them.
Tyra
Apr 13, 2013 Tyra rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tyra by: bookbrowse
I enjoyed this book up until the end (which really wasn't an ending IMHO). As the main character is an 8 year old girl, you get a glimpse of what living in a country at war is like for children who have no understanding of what is happening.

I wouldn't search for the book, but if you stumble across it, you might pick it up
Jennifer W
I enjoyed this book. It started slow for me, but when it picked up it got very good. My big problem with this was that Ruba, the narrator was at times very precocious (to the point of not being realistic) but at other times did not give the reader enough history to really follow the events happening around her.
Amy
It took me half the book to get used to the narration. First person from a 7-year-old, but it never really sounded like a 7-year-old, did it? In any case, getting past that, the childlike experience of random incomprehensible violence actually worked out to be heartbreaking, all the way to the rather abrupt ending.
Joel
Set in Lebanon during the Israeli invasion, it's a family's story told by the young daughter. While it was interesting and an okay read, there was some missing element; a passion that didn't come through. Still, worth reading and you do get a sense what it's like to live in a worn torn city.
Stephanie
The writing was beautiful, but I just couldn't get into it. The story moved along very slowly, and the reveal of the mystery surrounding Ruba's father's depression was very anti-climactic. There was a lot of potential with this premise, but I didn't feel that the book lived up to it.
Malou
I've recently come across this novel! It's an amazing literary work -- moving, haunting and though-provoking! The narrator is an eleven-year-old girl, whose perspective gives a more immediate feel to the civil war experience in Lebanon. A story that lets a shiver run down your spine.
Vicki
This book had great language and an interesting premise, but I felt it only touched the surface of what it could have about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. I felt the narrator understood little of what was going on and as a reader I then felt I understood little.
Emily
I really wanted to like this book. The plot itself was quite good, bringing together an honest 8 year old protagonist's view of the invasion of Lebanon and the unveiling of her family's history, but something about the writing didn't engage me. Oh, well.
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