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KISS THE DUST by Elizabeth Laird

KISS THE DUST

By Elizabeth Laird

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-525-44893-4
Publisher: Dutton

 Here, Laird, author of a poignant first novel about the effects of a hydrocephalic baby on his family (Loving Ben, 1989), portrays the journey of a Kurdish refugee family--a story based on the real experiences in the mid-80's of Iraqi Kurds now living in England. For Tara, 13, and her family, their ordeal is cruel and often life-threatening, yet they are among the lucky ones. Wealthy ``Baba'' (secretly a power in the Kurdish military) still has money even after repeated searches, while ``Daya'' manages to smuggle her jewels. Escaping the police as they leave their luxurious home in a city in northern Iraq, they take a taxi to their primitive vacation house in the mountains. For Tara, the return to village ways is almost as much of a shock as the bombs that eventually drive the family over the border into Iran, to a refugee camp infested with bedbugs and assaulted by deafening prayers rasped from a loudspeaker. Eventually, Baba makes contact with relatives in Teheran and passage to London is negotiated. Ever-present dangers maintain suspense--from a brutal street-killing Tara witnesses to her older brother's miraculous escape; meanwhile, Laird builds a sympathetic picture of the embattled Kurds and a compelling portrait of Tara and the sobering changes wrought in her and her family by the events, including her first startled response to a free society (``attractive and exciting...but frightening...as if things might suddenly get out of control''). An important contribution to the growing number of refugee stories. (Fiction. 10+)