Saturday, January 15, 2011
Review: Shooting Kabul (Senzai)
Posted by Helen's Book Blog
Author: N.H. Senzai
Genre: YA fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Challenges: PoC; Reading from my shelves; Awesome Authors
FTC Disclosure: I bought this book and am donating it to my school's library
Summary (from the inside flap): Fadi never imagined he'd start middle school in Fremont, California, thousands of miles from home in Kbul--and half a world away from his missing six-year-old sister, Mariam.
Adjusting to life in the United States isn't easy for Fadi's family, and as the events of September 11 unfold, the prospects of locating Mariam in war-torn Afghanistan seem slim. When a photography competition with a grand prize of a trip to India is announced, Fadi sees his chance to return to Afghanistan and find his sister. But can one photo really bring Mariam home?
Review: This book is based in part on the author's husband's own experience fleeing Soviet-controlled Afghanistan in 1979. I was so relieved to read that his real sibling was not left behind as Fadi's sister is in this book.
The author does a wonderful job of mixing Fadi's experience starting middle school, the experiences of Afghanis and other minorities in the wake of 9/11, the culture of Afghanistan, and the anguish of losing a child. That sounds like too much to take on in one YA novel, but it all fits together seemlessly in this wonderful book.
Fadi is a great character. He is twelve years old but has the responsibility and the burden of watching out for his little sister. In some books I feel like young children are given too much maturity, but Fadi seems very real, down to earth, and a 12-year-old who has had to go through too much. The supporting characters are also good; I liked that Fadi and his very extended family get along with one another. His older sister and parents are real and have wonderful interactions with him throughout the book.
I also liked the way the book moved fluidly between the family's current life in San Francisco and their past life in Kabul, including the escape. Their educated, but troubled lives dealing with the Taliban juxtaposed with the lower class life and bigotry experienced by Fadi at school in San Francisco is poignant. However, it certainly isn't all doom and gloom. I enjoyed the relationships Fadi formed with a girl in his class as well as his art teacher; they were both caring, interesting, and provided more insight into Fadi's personality.
I liked the contrast of the two cities, both on the ocean, both with beautiful buildings, yet so far apart in so many ways. I seem to be reading quite a few books about Afghanistan these days (starting with Stones into Schools last year). It is a part of the world that fascinates me (yes, yes, along with India, Uganda and the Middle East). Click to see my updated Google Map.