I listened to Words in the Dust a few weeks ago, and needed some time to process Trent Reedy's debut novel before posting. Words in the Dust is the story of Zulaikha, a young Afghani girl with a cleft lip, and her sister Zeynab in post-Taliban Afganistan. The core events of the story are based on several incidents that occurred while Mr. Reedy was serving with a US National Guard Provincial Reconstruction Team in rural Afghanistan. There are so many potential problems writing about a foreign culture, especially when writing for young adults, and Mr. Reedy does an admirable job of avoiding them.
I very much enjoyed Ariana Delawari's narration/reading. But in many ways the highlight of the volume is the author and narrator interviews at the end, especially when he talked about how conscious he was of the pitfalls of trying to write the story of an Afghani girl when he was neither female nor Afghan.
While Scholastic recommends this book for readers in Grads 3 - 7, based on disturbing parts of the story, I would recommend this book for Grad 6 and above unless in the context of a partner read with an adult.