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Kiss the Dust

Kiss the Dust

4.0 14
by Elizabeth Laird

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Her father's involvement with the Kurdish resistance movement in Iraq forces 13-year-old Tara to flee with her family over the border into Iran, where they face an unknown future.


Her father's involvement with the Kurdish resistance movement in Iraq forces 13-year-old Tara to flee with her family over the border into Iran, where they face an unknown future.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Laird weaves compelling facts about the conflicts between the Arabs and the Kurds into her gripping tale about one family's escape to freedom. After witnessing a teen's brutal murder and meeting a wounded revolutionary, 12-year-old Tara begins to realize the extent of persecution in her native Iraq. When her Kurdish father is sought by the secret police, Tara and her family abandon their home and head north to the mountains. Their refuge is short-lived, however; bombs begin to drop and they flee across the Iranian border to a primitive refugee camp. Stripped of their dignity and still not out of danger, the family plots to leave the continent, despite slim chances of asylum. The author personalizes the Kurdish experience by sensitively portraying Tara's feelings of loss, degradation and uprootedness. Although some readers may find the girl's initial naivete as hard to swallow as her abrupt awakening to violence, most will overlook these minor weaknesses as the story's tension rapidly mounts. Even those familiar with political problems in Iraq and Iran may be shocked by the graphic depiction of tyranny--and may sense that despite their hardships, Tara's family fares better than many people who risk their lives for independence. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
The plight of the refugee is universal. In this story, we meet Tara, 13, who is like any other modern day teenager. Within a short time, she and her family, who are Kurds, are forced to flee Iraq during the 1984 Iran-Iraq War. Although the setting is exotic and timely, the characters are ordinary people who long for freedom, peace and a decent way of life; yet, they are herded into harsh refugee camps, gradually making their way to relatives in Iran and finally, to London. Superficially, this is an engrossing adventure story but at a deeper level, the story allows us to empathize with the people.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-- A fictional account of a Kurdish family during the Iran-Iraq War in the mid-1980s, when many Iraqi Kurds who had been struggling to establish a homeland were forced to take refuge in Iran and other countries. Laird focuses on 13-year-old Tara, an urban girl who finds herself fleeing with her family from Iraqi secret police, then living in a wartorn village and surviving in an Iranian relocation camp before finally escaping to England. While Laird dispels many of the stereotypes young people may have of the Middle East by showing Tara as a thoroughly modern girl who loves to ride in her family's Mercedes or watch her VCR, there are times when observations about Kurdish heritage and struggle emphasize differences in clothes rather than examining ideology or religion. Often, cliched phrases are jarring distractions from the location and mood of the story. Still, the author clearly shows the changes wrought in a young girl who comes to an awareness of the struggles of her people and leaves behind the comfortable, spoiled existence she'd known. Because Tara remains connected to her family at all times, and rides in a car and shops during excursions from the relocation camp, Laird's account of Tara's plight may sound, at times, less desperate and frightening then other refugee novels that focus on separation and severe deprivation, such as Tamar Bergman's Along the Tracks (Houghton, 1991). But in some ways those contemporary elements may have even more impact for readers who will be forced to realize that atrocities are not relegated to the past and that freedom is not easily won.-- Susan Knorr, Milwaukee Public Library, WI

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.40(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Laird is a writer of children's fiction and travel, and lives in England. She is also known for the large body of folktales which she collected from the regions of Ethiopia. Her books have been translated into at least fifteen languages Her works include: Red Sky in the Morning--Highly Commended for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Children's Book Award; Hiding Out – Winner of the Smarties Young Judges AwardJake's Tower – Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children's Book Award; The Garbage King – Winner of the Scottish Arts Council Children's Book of the Year award and the Stockport Book award. It has also been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the Blue Peter Award, the Salford Children's Book Award, the Calderdale Children's Book Award, the Lincolnshire Young People's Book Award, the Stockton Children's Book of the Year, the West Sussex Children's Book Award, the Portsmouth Book Award and the Sheffield Children's Book Award; and A Little Piece of Ground – Winner of the Hampshire Book Award and has been shortlisted for the Southern Schools Book Award.

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Kiss the Dust 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Team_Cromwell888 More than 1 year ago
My teacher this year read it to us and here is why I disliked it, 1) Way too long 2) Hard to understand 3) depressing 4) bad ending 5)skips a lot 6) doesn't teach much throughout Save your money!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am Kurdish and was very excited when I found this book at the library because their are few books for teens on the Kurds. It did not disappoint me and is a very realistic story of what the Kurds have gone through. Everyone should read this so they can learn about the Kurdish ethicity and way of life in a interesting book that will change their life forever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
oh my goodness man this book was off the lock man i loved it i dont see how anyone can down this book it was kind of long but once you got pass that part you was like woah! this is good i read it a few years ago but i still remember it as one of the best books i ever read and i read alot
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was okay. It was kind of sad reading about a my age going through everything, and yet still moving on with her life. I realize that there are people who went through that , after reading the after story. But still if you think about people take for granted the government and the way of life, and Kidd the Dust is a story that lets people see how lucky they really are.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book makes me feel very lucky living in America. Imagine living a place that doesn't have enough of simple things like toilets and soap.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book reminds me of how lucky I am living here in America. Tara must leave all her life behind to live in a camp that doesn't have enough of simple things like toilets and soap.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book the first time I read it in 4th grade, then while cleaning out a box in the garage I came by it again my freshman year in college. It did not disappoint. I thought this was a great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a great book about the kurds and refuges
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books i have ever read. It really showed me how hard it really is to live in when your counrty is in war. This was am awesome book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that this book was one of the best I've ever read. It truly demonstrates the struggle the Kurdish people have gone through for centuries and recommend it to everyone. The author has done a wonderful job in background research of the story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kiss the Dust by Elizabeth Laird lacks both the profound meaning and hidden depth in Animal Farm and the lucid, graphic, sensory detail in The Good Earth. The plot did not keep me interested at all. I could basically predict the rest of the book after reading through the first few chapters. Of course, it¿s quite believable, as the author had consulted with many other Kurdish families and asked about their stories prior to the writing of this book, but the way she compiled the multitude of information was deplorable. Think about it, readers: Tara lives perfectly fine in a luxury home in Sulaimaniya in the beginning, and after a whole story of turmoil (in the mountains, and at both camps), lives safely again. What the author forgot to emphasize in the plot is how this particular family of refugees is unique from others that had similar experiences. What makes a novel¿s plot interesting is uniqueness and creativity, and Elizabeth¿s book has none of these qualities. With regard to the pace of the story, Elizabeth falls short again. The uneven pacing and inconsistency between different settings is evident. Although it begins with a moderate pace in Sulaimaniya, it grew excessively sluggish once the family moved to the mountains, and continues to be slow throughout the end of their stay at the first refugee camp. The rest is written like a running cheetah; with almost no detail, she concludes with a short note that they have found a secure residence. Note that ¿slowness¿ does not refer to the story moving along slowly due to a myriad amount of detail giving about the situation, it refers to certain unnecessary events she put in, which causes it to be all the worse. The standard for pace is consistency; an author can¿t choose to make certain portions move like a sloth, and then speed through the rest. This irregularity detracts from the overall quality of the book. There is an amazing lack of interesting details in this book. And while some of the situations were realistic, it was hard to put oneself in that position, because the author gives no detail whatsoever of the surroundings. One the mountains, when the bombers came to bomb their village, unlike what I would have expected, which was deafening noise within my head, I felt as if the bomb was like a ball falling to the floor from one foot high. A few comments about how Tara felt does not make the event more real and does not cut it: how about describing the explosion in a more descriptive manner? This type of writing, focusing more on action/dialogue rather than description is very elementary. The ideal book has about three ¿ fourths description, one ¿ fourth action/dialogue, not the other way around, as Kiss the Dust is written. Another part of the book that lacks detail is their stay at the second camp; the author attempts to end the story very quickly after that, forming a ¿tiger¿s head, snake¿s tail¿. There are zero methods any reader can put himself ¿inside the story¿: the descriptions, if any, were extremely general and gave a vague and smudged picture of the real situation. She makes the reader hope that she had spent more time pondering over what to write about the setting. The dialogue was plain bland. If anything, it was stereotypical everyday talk. As I mentioned before, there are no characteristics of the main characters that make them unique from others in similar situations (i.e. in danger). The characters were stock to the edge, as there was nothing more expected than Tara in Kurdistan worrying about her old home and being nostalgic for her friends. How about delving deeper into the more intimate and meaningful feelings that readers won¿t guess? The people definitely sounded made ¿ up¿how often does a person get stricken with disease in horrible camp conditions, recovers, and becomes healthier than ever before (Teriska Khan)? Then you have another unbelievable and record ¿ setting character, Ashti. With one impaired arm, he manages to save Tara from a rag
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was the most interesting I've read in a long time. I was totally unaware of the situation with the Kurdish people, and what they're going through. This is a really good book, and I hope that you enjoy it too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is truly touching and reminds you that sometimes you dont think you have enough, but you always have your family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kiss the Dust is filled with wonderfully researched ethnographic details about Kurdish and refugee culture.