May 6, 2010

Review: Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai

Title: Shooting Kabul
Author: N.H. Senzai
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publish Date: June 22, 2010

From Goodreads
In early 2001, Fadi and his family hide in a sheltered teashop on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Staring at the full moon, Fadi recalls the first line of the tattered book he found in the black-market, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - “Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away...”

Fadi hopes that his family’s escape will be successful - if they arent', they're going to be in an awful lot of trouble. As the truck rolls into pick them up, the Taliban show up, and in the chaos, Fadi’s younger sister, Mariam, is left behind. Settled in the United States as refugees, in a post 9/11 environment, Fadi tries every hare-brained scheme he can think of to find his sister. As he waits to hear if he’s won the grand prize of a photography competition, which would allow them to travel back to the border to look for Mariam, he wonders if he’ll see his beloved younger sister again.

Shooting Kabul is about the power of hope, love and perseverance.

My Review
This book broke my heart and then taught me about hope.  I wasn't sure what to expect when I started the book.  What I found was a book that taught me a lot about the human spirit to survive, believe and live.  As Fadi's family flees Afghanistan his youngest sister Mariam is lost in the rush.  They are forced to leave for America without her.  Each family member, in their own way, blames themself for Mariam's separation.  I could feel the heart break of each family member, but for me as a mom the hardest grief was that of his mother's.  Yet through it all they remain firm in their belief that Mariam will be found and returned to them.  Their conviction made me believe it as well.  When I thought there couldn't be any hope, the family would express their hope and mine would be lifted as well.  Many times they could've given up, but they never did.  Fadi tried many different plans for returning to Afghanistan to find her.  Plans I knew were foolish, but I kept my fingers crossed for him. 

In the midst of Fadi's family losing Marium and adjusting to life in America, 9-11 happens.  I gained a whole new perspective of that time period by seeing how it affected Fadi's family.  I shook my head again and again at how they were treated.  Fadi's father Habib has a PhD, but people only see him as an uneducated taxi driver.  It reminded me to never judge people on outward appearances because you have no clue who they are, where they came from and what diffuculties they have faced.  Fadi's family handles the treatment they received after 9-11 with much grace and honor.  At Friday prayers during the khutba (sermon) the iman (leader of prayers) talks about a verse from the Holy Qur'an.  The iman explains that this particular verse"is saying is that if we kill one human being, it as if we have killed all of mankind, and if we save one human being, it is as if we have saved all of mankind." What an amazing concept.  It truly made me think.

This is not a book I'd hand to every student.  Some just wouldn't get it. BUT as a teacher it is a book I would use in my classrooms to help students understand not only the Muslim faith and the different ethinic groups in Afghanistan but also to look at about we treat each other.  I think it has some great lessons they could learn from.

Final thought: This book taught me more than I could've imagined.
Best stick-with-you image: The family in the truck when they realize Marium is gone.
Best for ages: 11+

quotes taken from an ARC copy



  1. Wow. I'm going to add this to my list.
    I love books that teach about patience and understanding and diversity. It is so nice when they are well handled.

  2. Oh, this book sounds simply wonderful. I've not heard of it yet. Thanks for the review.

  3. Wonderful review. I am immediately taken with the story and see your point about it worthiness in teaching tolerance. Thanks.

  4. This book is on my list of YA/MG debut author books to read. Great review and I love the quote by the iman, what a concept! I love how all religions often have the same roots or teachings, i.e. being good to one another. We are not as different as we think.

    I need to know if they find Marium!

  5. Ooooh! This book sounds fantastic! I'll definitely check it out! :)

  6. This book sounds wonderful. I always love reading books that teach me about life through the eyes of a different culture. Thanks for the review.

  7. Great review. It sounds like this one had a big impact on your. Those are the best ones.