Dawn and Duskby Alice Mead
For as long as thirteen-year-old Azad can remember, the Islamic Republic of Iran, where he lives in the predominantly Kurdish town of Sardasht, has been at war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and his country has been a harsh society full of spies, secrets, and "disappearances." Still, most of the time Azad manages to live a normal life, hanging out at the bakery next
For as long as thirteen-year-old Azad can remember, the Islamic Republic of Iran, where he lives in the predominantly Kurdish town of Sardasht, has been at war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and his country has been a harsh society full of spies, secrets, and "disappearances." Still, most of the time Azad manages to live a normal life, hanging out at the bakery next door, going to school with his friend Hiwa, playing sports, and taking care of his parrot. Then Azad learns that his town may soon become a target for Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Now more than ever, Azad feels torn between his divorced parents and his conflicting desires to remain in his home or escape. His father is somehow connected to the police and is rooted in the town. His mother may be part of the insurgency, yet is ready to flee. How can Azad make the choice?
The story of how one boy's world was turned upside down in 1987 Iran is a timely and memorable introduction to the conflicts in the Middle East.
- Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 263 KB
- Age Range:
- 10 - 12 Years
Read an Excerpt
Dawn and Dusk
By Alice Mead
Farrar, Straus and GirouxCopyright © 2007 Alice Weber James
All rights reserved.
"Azad! Wake up!"
I ignored my father's voice and rolled over, drifting back into the warmth of doughy-sweet sleep. Ah. A little more rest would be so delightful.
"Get up!" my father, Omar, yelled again from the living room.
Oh. School! Was I already late? I sat up with a start, sweaty in the tangled sheets.
Glancing at the clock—it was barely 6:00 a.m.—I jumped out of bed and grabbed my shirt.
Yesterday my best friend, Hiwa, and I had been two seconds late for homeroom. Two seconds! Okay, maybe thirty seconds. And Mr. Azizi, our Persian teacher, had hit my hands with his ruler. But Hiwa, who not only was late but had messy hair, he beat with a rubber hose on the backs of his calves. Mr. Azizi told us both to get our hair cut.
"Hey, Bibi!" I took the cloth drape off my parrot's cage. She looked at me sideways, tipping her head down affectionately. I put a handful of seeds in her cup and made sure her water dish was full. Usually I took her out for a few minutes and talked to her. I told her stories from school, my secrets, my wishes, how Hiwa had a crush on Avin, the beautiful woman my uncle was going to marry in less than two weeks.
"Sorry, Bibi. I can't play now. Be a good girl while I'm gone. Okay?"
I hurried into the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face, glancing at myself in the mirror. I tucked my shirt in, then ran my hand over my short black hair—or what was left of it. Yesterday Hiwa and I had stopped after school at the barbershop and gotten our hair cut as short as possible. I turned my face from side to side to see if any sideburns had grown in overnight. Some guys in my class even had faint mustaches. At thirteen. But not me.
Oof! That barber had scalped us. Oh, well. Better looking like a shorn sheep than getting hit with the rubber hose.
I went into the living room. My dad was sitting on the sofa, where he slept, still in his Tshirt and boxers, smoking a cigarette, staring at the floor. Probably he'd come in late again. He looked tired and hungover, not the least bit ready for his job laying bricks all day.
"Hi," I muttered as I went into the kitchen. He didn't answer. Another bad mood, I thought in disgust.
I checked our kitchen for food. There was a small piece of a chocolate bar in the door of the refrigerator. I ate that quickly. But I was starving! I was tall and skinny and could eat like a horse without getting the least bit fat.
"What happened to your hair?" my dad asked from the doorway.
"I got it cut short for school. How come there's never any food?" I asked. Now I would have to go to the bakery next door.
After my mom had left, he didn't even try to run the household. Buying bread and fruit and cheese on a regular basis seemed to be beyond him. He had let the roses in the courtyard grow into a tangled mass of half-dead branches, which he finally cut down to the roots. I'd loved those roses, but he didn't care.
"I'm no cook." He shrugged. "And don't go racing off to your mother's for food. You go there much too often. Find something else to do once in a while. You should hang out with the kids in the neighborhood more."
I stared at him. What was this? I loved visiting my mother and uncle. My father had never said I couldn't go there before. Why had he brought this up? But I didn't have time to argue, or I'd be late. I grabbed my book bag from the chair.
"I have to go." I crossed the living room and headed out the front door. He always made it sound as if my mother had betrayed us, had betrayed me. Even though she was sweet and kind and loving, she'd had to leave me behind. That was how divorce was in Iran. Children over seven had to stay with their fathers. I never understood exactly why my parents had divorced. And I couldn't get an answer from my father or mother. When I asked my mom, she just smiled and changed the subject. I wished there was some way I could find out.
"See you later," I said.
"By the way, you're not going to your Uncle Mohammad's wedding either. And I don't want you hanging around his crazy friends anymore. You hear me?" he called as I ran down the steps.
Not go to the wedding? There was no way my father was going to stop me. Anyway, over the next two weeks, he'd forget what he'd said.
I hurried across our small courtyard to the bakery next door.
"Good morning!" I called through the open door. The sun was just starting to stream in the front window of the shop, and the two clay ovens were already hot in back. I set my book bag on a café table. Wusta Fatah, the baker, peeked out to see who was there.
"Hey! Good morning, Azad!"
"Azad! Azad! Ooooh!" called his wife, Hero, hurrying from the back and squeezing my face. She handed me two fresh rolls in waxed paper, one filled with chocolate and one with cheese. She slipped me a sealed cup of liquid yogurt to drink.
"Thank you!" I grinned. They were always so good to me.
"No breakfast again? Is your dad home?" Wusta Fatah asked.
"Yeah. But he came in late."
His wife gave the baker a warning look.
"I hope Omar slept soundly. There was a roundup last night because of people like him. SAVAMA took in twenty young men off the streets."
I looked down, blushing. SAVAMA was Iran's dreaded secret police.
"Fatah! Azad is a fine boy. Just like his uncle," the baker's wife said sharply. "He has nothing to do with the police. He's a child still. Don't worry him with things like that."
"A child? Ha! It's time he grew up," the baker said.
Now my father's sullen mood this morning made more sense. It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with what had happened last night. Maybe he simply wanted me to stay closer to home because he felt panicky about the latest roundup. I knew that my father was an informer for the secret police, but it was something no one ever dared to bring up openly, something I tried not to think about. Even though Wusta Fatah seemed to believe my dad had been involved in the roundup, I didn't.
Wusta Fatah looked at me and shook his head. "Okay, okay. Never mind. Tell Omar that if it weren't for us, you would starve!" Then he retreated to the hot ovens in the back, grumbling.
I bit into my chocolate roll. The crumbly bread melted deliciously in my mouth.
"I wish you were living with your mother, you know that? She's such a wonderful woman," Hero said.
I shoved the rest of the pastry into my mouth. The news about the roundup was bothering me. Was I being too trusting? Could my dad be involved in things like that? Why was he suddenly telling me where I could go? Whom I could see? He was getting so weird!
I knew I shouldn't talk with anyone outside the family about my parents, but at that moment I felt I could trust Hero. She always had a good word for my mom. Of all the people I knew, she would be honest with me.
"Hero, why did my mother and father get divorced?" I asked in a low voice, not wanting Wusta Fatah to hear. "Please tell me."
She didn't answer. She acted as if I hadn't spoken.
"Here. Sit down to chew your food. You don't want to choke." Hero sat down at the café table with me and changed the subject. "Oof. I'm tired already. You know how early we have to get up. I didn't sleep well last night. Did you hear those planes overhead, Azad?
Very low. But no bombs."
"It wasn't a bombing run!" Wusta Fatah called from the back. "It was an Iraqi reconnaissance mission, that's why! They were spying on us!"
"Oh, nonsense. Why would they fly a spy mission at night? It's dark out. Do you think they're owls?"
"Women! You don't know anything! The Americans gave Saddam night vision equipment. Trust me. The Iraqis can see us sleeping in our beds!" Wusta Fatah was nearly shouting. "First the Americans spend years financing the secret police for the Shah, and then they give our mortal enemy planes worse than anything imaginable. What are they doing to us, those crazy people?"
"I'd better get going. Yesterday Hiwa and I were late."
"Oh ho! Really?" The baker laughed.
I grinned. "Yeah. The teacher beat us. But it wasn't my fault. It was Hiwa. You know how lazy he is. He gets up as late as possible."
"He could stand to lose a little weight," the baker said. "Or he'll look like me soon!" He patted his own round belly.
"Bye!" I called. Outside, I finished the other roll quickly and brushed the crumbs off my shirt. Then I ran down the hill, skidding on loose pebbles that had washed down the hillside in the rain. Stopping at the corner, I peeled the foil cover off the yogurt and drank it, enjoying its cool, smooth, tangy taste. Yogurt was so much better than the boiled milk my father brought home in used soda bottles.
I was in the boys' middle school, where I studied the Persian language; Arabic; math; science; tech education; and electronics. And history. Persian history, not Kurdish history. We weren't allowed to speak Kurdish in school.
I slowed down, thinking about what Wusta Fatah had told me. Had my father been involved in the arrest of those young Kurdish men last night? I only knew that he hadn't come home until late. That didn't mean he had anything to do with the roundup.
Innocent or not, the men would be tortured and executed. They would join the thousands of people who had "disappeared" from our city of Sardasht during this war because the Ayatollah was afraid of a Kurdish revolution. My father might be lazy. He might drink when he shouldn't. But he would never be part of such a terrible thing! I was sure of it.
* * *
It was 6:30 a.m. when I got to Hiwa's gate. He had promised to be on time today and waiting for me outside. I couldn't believe he wasn't there. Impatiently I threw a pebble at his window.
Tap! Another one. Tap!
Where was he? We had a secret call we used to get each other's attention. The bray of a donkey, only backwards. Not eee-aww, but aww-eee. Anything to do with donkeys was pretty funny. The word jash, "donkey," was the name for an informer.
I cupped my hands. "Aw-eee! Aw-eee!"
There he was at the window, waving. Why hadn't he come out to wait? He must have been trying to eat as much as he could before I arrived.
"Come on!" I shouted. I was so annoyed: first my dad saying I couldn't go to the wedding, then Wusta Fatah telling me my dad was involved in the arrests, and now Hiwa making us late for school again.
He came out through the metal gate in the garden wall, calmly chewing on a large hunk of fresh-baked flatbread his mother had made.
"Here. For your lunch." He handed me a roll filled with rice and spiced meat. I stuffed it in my bag.
"Thanks." When I told my dad that people gave me food each day, he'd said, "The kindness of strangers is a blessing." For him, it certainly was. For me, too.
"We have soccer today in phys. ed. Can't wait," Hiwa said.
Hiwa loved soccer, but since he didn't like running up and down the field, he played goalie. He liked diving to the ground to make spectacular saves. He didn't notice the bruises he got. Hiwa was like a camel; he never felt pain. He hadn't even cried out when Mr. Azizi beat him with the hose yesterday. All the guys had been impressed and had crowded around us at recess. Hiwa bragged that it had simply felt like being hit with wet spaghetti.
We came to a section of streets where the sidewalks were crammed with metal kiosks. Street vendors were just setting up shop for the day, unloading boxes of shoelaces, apricots, chocolate, batteries, cheap pants, toys, and scarves for women. We inched by them.
"Listen, after school, first let's walk by the girls' school and then go to that electronics shop. The new one near the city center? Maybe the owner will let us play with that Atari he has. I want to play the Pac-Man game."
There was only one shop in all Sardasht that sold the electronics games we were obsessed with. But I wanted to tell Hiwa something.
"Yeah. Pac-Man. Cool. Hiwa, listen. I think the baker's wife knows the real reason my mom left. I'm going to find out."
"The real reason? What do you mean, 'real reason'? She left because your dad's a grouch. What other reason could there be?" Hiwa looked at me, puzzled.
"None," I said. "Forget it. Hey, there's a soccer rerun on TV this afternoon. You want to watch that instead of going to the shop? It's Pakistan versus Australia."
"No way. We have more pressing concerns."
He pushed his way through the crowded sidewalk and I followed, thinking about the silly Pac-Man game, the blue screen with the funny circle-headed guy chomping his way along the pathways of the maze while the silly music played in the background.
"Americans play really fun games," I said. "Maybe they're not such bad people underneath."
"Of course they're bad," Hiwa said. "They're greedy. They never give to others. And their women are barely covered. What kind of people dress like that in public? They have no modesty at all!"
"Yeah." We had Morality Police who roamed the streets, making sure women were properly veiled and not wearing lipstick or flashy jewelry underneath their robes.
"They're worse than bad. They're evil. Be careful or they'll give you the evil eye! Waaaah!" Hiwa leered at me. I pushed him away. We began to scuffle. He was such an idiot.
There was a Revolutionary Guard patrol vehicle with four guys in it, one of their Toyota Land Cruisers, parked right across the street. The men were buying cigarettes at a kiosk.
"Cut it out! Quit pushing!" I said. "You want those guys to come over here?"
"Like I care." Hiwa laughed. "Come on. I'll race you to school."
I ran after him. As always, I felt a little jealous of Hiwa. I wanted his fate, his family. I didn't want mine.CHAPTER 2
We tore along the dust-choked streets, past bakeries, hardware stores, kiosks, grocers with boxes of fruit on display; past taxis, vans, and mule-drawn carts from the surrounding villages. We darted past another Guard patrol, holding our book bags so that they would be clearly visible. I hoped we wouldn't be stopped and asked for our I.D.'s. That would make us late for sure.
We ran through the school gates and clattered up the stairs to the second floor. Our class was at the end of the long hall. Thirty-five boys stayed in that room all day, while the teachers of each subject came and left, hour by hour.
We edged our way past the rows of battered wooden desks and took our seats near the back only a moment before Mr. Azizi came in. I glared at Hiwa. "That was too close. Wake up earlier tomorrow," I whispered.
He smiled. "Why? We made it, didn't we?"
Mr. Azizi began to take attendance in his deliberate way. I got out my book and glanced at my notes on Persian mythology. Yesterday's lesson had introduced the great mythical bird the Simorgh. A gigantic eagle-like bird, part lion, part dog, with huge wings, she lived in the Tree of Knowledge and knew the secrets of fate. One wing was fortune, the other grace. Kurds had stories about her, too.
"We were starting that poem about the thirty birds who traveled to the land of the magic Simorgh, right?" I asked Hiwa. I thumbed through my notebook, looking for where I'd left off. The teacher was purposely ending the year by introducing us to his favorite poem. I had gotten a copy of it from Uncle Mohammad.
Hiwa nodded. "I wonder if the Gray Flamingo was on that journey. It was only eight hundred years ago," he said mischievously, barely holding in a laugh. "Did any flamingos go on that trip?"
"Ssh!" I whispered, elbowing him. Our nickname for Mr. Azizi was the Gray Flamingo because of his stiff gray hair and jutting face.
He glared at us from under his bushy eyebrows. We were quiet while he finished with attendance. Then we had to rise and say a pledge to Iran and listen to a prayer reading, after which we sat down, waiting for the lesson to start.
I had my pen out and notebook open, ready to take notes on the first lines of Attar's famous poem. I'd read sections of it the night before, lying in bed. Hiwa clearly was not interested in what we were doing. He lived for tech. ed. class and spent his time designing circuitry patterns in his notebook. Right now he was writing the word motherboard in Arabic script. I tried not to laugh.
Excerpted from Dawn and Dusk by Alice Mead. Copyright © 2007 Alice Weber James. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
ALICE MEAD has written several books about children in war-ravaged societies, including Girl of Kosovo, an NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies. She lives in Maine.
A children's writer has the unusual task of developing a unique voice coupled with evoking the so-called magic of childhood. But is childhood truly a magical kingdom?
I do know that childhood is a time so deeply and purely felt that adulthood can rarely match it. It is a time of great heroism, dashed hopes, leaps of joy, steadfast friendships, explosive frustration, utter hilarity, the shame of betrayal. Certain smells, certain words elicit powerful memories of childhood. For me, the smell of boiled brussels sprouts even now makes me feel utter revulsion. The smell of ethyl alcohol and the words "tetanus booster"cause sheer terror. The clap of an old, dusty book snapped shut and the words "hidden staircase" fill me with wonder. Where? Where? Tell me! How could I not write about childhood?
When I was seven and eight, my family lived in postwar England, in an industrial Yorkshire city that still showed the devastation of World War II and the Nazi bombings. This left a lasting impression on me. The journey there, by ocean liner across the Atlantic, and my later poking about deserted misty castles and the dank Yorkshire moors, and smelling pungent coal fires, all created an unusual and not always pleasant adventure filled with questions. Was Robin Hood real? Was that truly King Arthur's castle? And had I really snapped a photo of the Loch Ness monster? The long, snaky streak still shows plainly in my faded photo.
Back in the United States, I grew up during the Cold War, at the height of the nuclear arms race. I studied Russian for six years, or tried to, endlessly curious about the countries behind the Iron Curtain. And when I was eighteen, there was the Vietnam War. There were antiwar protests, Woodstock, flower children. I went to a Quaker college. I wanted to major in art, but there was no art department, so I majored in English. I started attending Quaker meetings.
One summer, when I was twenty, I worked as an art counselor at a Fresh Air camp for inner-city kids. Watching their sheer delight in using paint and clay, I was hooked. I became an art teacher. I felt privileged to be with kids, to make my classroom a safe place where they could explore their own creativity.
In the meantime, I married and had two sons, both of whom are now in college. One is studying economics and one physics. My husband and I have two dogs, and used to have the occasional rabbit, chameleon, hamster, and goldfish as visitors.
My life was going along smoothly until I was forced to leave teaching because of a chronic illness. I had to rest a lot. That gave me time to work harder on my writing. I began writing a storybook about nature called "Tales of the Maine Woods." Although editors seemed to like the stories, they weren't willing to publish them. Eventually I gave the stories a grandmother, and then I gave the grandmother a granddaughter named Rayanne. Two of those original tales are part of my first book, Crossing the Starlight Bridge.
For two years I watched the war in Bosnia, formerly part of Yugoslavia. In another part of this region, one million Albanian children are among the brutally oppressed. Even under these harsh conditions, they struggle to live in peace and dignity. The family bonds in their culture are extraordinary. I wrote about these children in Adem's Cross. Each day for the past four years, I have worked to help them, and all Balkan people, regain their freedom and human rights.
Recently, other Quaker values besides non-violence became more meaningful to me. These are simplicity and self-reflection. My husband and I moved to a small house near a cliff overlooking the islands in Casco Bay, Maine. I have a flower garden that my dogs like to dig up. When I am stuck writing a story, I can go and sit on the rocks and watch the water for a while, something I have enjoyed doing through my whole life.
Alice Mead was born in 1952 and attended Bryn Mawr College. She received a master's degree in education, and later a B.S. in art education. She founded two preschools for mainstreaming handicapped preschoolers, and taught art at the junior-high-school level for a number of years. She played the flute and piccolo for twenty-eight years, and now she paints, and enjoys gardening and writing--especially about a little boy named Junebug.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
The three pups were small mabey a week old. There were two male and a female. The feamle was a cream colour with light orage freakles all over. The youngest male was a pale grey fur that faded intovwhite at his paws tail and muzzle. Te last on was deep black with greyrings on paws and tail. As his eyes were open and theye were bright light blue the glowed.
The brute turned, shocked at the wolf's hasty exit. But even more surprised at the pups they had left behind. Rhys approached the trio softly, being very careful not to scare them. As much as he would like to care for them... He couldn't. Maybe Errant could care for them?
Name : Hmm, take a guess... <br> Gender: Male <br> Rank: Alpha Male <br> Personality: He can seem a little harsh, but never mean. He only does what's best for his pack. Very ambitious, in a good way. Apperance: A handsome dark brown he-wolf with darker and lighter streaks across his pelt and bright green eyes. He has a black ear tip, a black paw, and a black tail tip. <br> Kin: <br> •Snowdrop, his sister. Alive. <br> •Sorrow, his mither. Dead. <br> •Malik, his father. Dead. <br> Crush: None yet, sooner or later he'll find a mate. <br> History: To long and despressing a story to tell. I'll save it for a rainy day. <br> Well, I guess that's pretty much it!
PELT: a red wolf with an orange tint, green eyes PERSONALITY: brave and exited loves to laugh and make others laugh. Preforms her duties heartlessly sas she loves to please people. AGE: 14 moons MATE OR KITS OR CRUSH: none, i dont really know anyone yet! OTHER: just ask i dont bite!
Name: Copperflare. • Gender: &female • Looks: Brown/red-ish & amber eyes. • Kin: Unknown. • Mate: No. • Crush: Blaze. • Pups: No. • History: Last pack didnt care about her, so she left. • Personality: Brave, calm, loyal, & intellegent.
12 moons. Female. A small brown shecat long black legs. Violet eyes. I will be a loving,caring,risky,and adventourous wolf. I love to look at Blaze and I have no pups. My theme song is thrift shop by macklemore and ryan. I never speak of ny history EVER!
"A place to stay is what youll get." She meows gently to the tom. "You may stay here, if youd like."
shadownight smiles ( i know try calling her by her real name that will realy freack her out and then if she know that you know it she'll get scared and not attack her real name is nightblaze mearly say the name and it will freack her out ) he smiles and sits
shadownight chuckles then starts to full on laugh ( you cant defend your self on whats comeing a spirit wolf named night is planing on takeing your pack and killing you but hey if thats what you want tell me to leave right now if you want to find her shes at night class first result i must warn you though dont get to close to her your you'll get burned
shadownight pads in his jet black pelt glisening with his wings at his side ( hello i need to talk to your alpha i am a spirit wolf here to gaurd your little pack here) he sits
Sorry...... *pads out*
DAWN AND DUSK by Alice Mead is a compelling work of fiction that is a timely read for youth of the 21st Century.
Azad is a pre-teen, Kurdish boy living in Iran along the Iraq border in the late '80's during the Iran-Iraq war. To make the lives of his people even more trying, the Kurds are despised in their own country as well as Iraq. This sad fact of life inspires many to join a resistance movement against the Ayatollah's regime, putting their lives in danger. When Azad's town is bombed with Iraqi chemical weapons, he retreats to his mother's home in the mountains of Kurdistan.
The heart of this story - in spite of its foreign setting - is one of universal concerns for young people. Azad's parents are divorced and he has mixed feelings for both his mom and dad. Who is to blame for his broken home?
He feels abandoned by his mom, who moved far away after the divorce, but he wonders if the rumors are true about his father. Is he really an informer for the Iranian secret police? Did his mother leave because she is a member of the resistance? His struggles with his family situation combine with his feelings of alienation as a Kurd. Many young people will identify with Azad's concerns.
Although the ending is a bit too tidy for realistic fiction, Mead's resolution keeps DAWN AND DUSK acceptable for its targeted young audience. This novel is extremely well-written and has an authentic sense of place.