Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: Thunder Over Kandahar (Sharon E. McKay)


Title: Thunder over Kandahar
Author: Sharon E. McKay
Genre: YA Fiction
Pages: 257
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: PoC
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school's library
Summary (from the back of the book): Best friends Tamanna and Yasimne cannot believe their good fortune when a school is set up in their Afghan village; however, their dreams for the future are shattered when the Taliban burn down the school and threaten the teacher and students with death.

As Tamanna faces an arranged marriage to an older man, and the Taliban target Yasmine's Western-educated family, the girls realize they must flee. Traveling through dangerous mountain passes, the two unaccompanied teens find themselves in mortal danger as they confront land mines, a suicide bomber, and roving bands of Taliban. But when the two girls are separated, they are left without the one thing that has helped them survive--each other.

Review: The cover of this book makes it look like a "boy" book because of the helicopters, but my guess is that it will appeal more to girls. I thought this was a very well done book except that occasionally the dialog felt a bit stilted.

This book follows the friendship of Yasmine, an Afghani born in England who recently moved to Afghanistan with her parents to "give back to their country", and Tamanna, a poor Afghan girl who doesn't have much of a future. Their friendship makes sense as both girls are bright, eager to learn, and willing to take small risks to better their lives.

The interactions with the Taliban and the foreign soldiers also feel very real, revealing the culture, the history, and the current situation in Afghanistan. I think teens who read this book will come away with a good sense of what life is like for girls under Taliban rules (even when the Taliban aren't officially in charge), boys who try to avoid the Taliban "recruiters", and westerners who try to help but are quite flummoxed over what to do to make an impact.

And the story is compelling. Talk about a survival story that makes the reader want to read to the end to find out what happens! I was glued to the couch until I finished the book.

I knew this was a novel, but the post-script really makes it all feel extremely real, so much so that I checked the author's notes and the back of the book for confirmation that it is fiction!


Geography Connection

(photo credit for the image women in burkas)

Click to see my updated Google Map. Another book set in Afghanistan. It seems like I read a lot of Afghanistan and India books. Here are some other good Afghanistan-based books that I've read:


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