Reviewed by Mark Frye, author and reviewer for TeensReadToo.com
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.