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Grade 5–8—In July 2001, as 11-year-old Fadi and his family hastily board a truck to begin their escape from Afghanistan, six-year-old Mariam lets go of her brother's hand and is tragically left behind. Their arrival in San Francisco is bittersweet as they are all too concerned about Mariam to appreciate their newfound safety and freedom. Fadi struggles with integrating himself into American middle school culture, eventually finding solace in the photography club. Still, he is most concerned with the part he played in losing Mariam and getting her back. A photography contest with the prize of a trip to India seems to be his best means of finding a way back to Afghanistan to help in the search for his sister. This is a sweet story of family unity, and readers will learn about Afghani Pukhtun culture. Occasionally Senzai relies too heavily on telling when showing would be more effective. Also, at times the dialogue seems inauthentic because it contains more historical detail than would be likely among people of the same background. The relevance of occasional references to E. L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (S & S, 1970), which Fadi is reading, is never truly clear. That said, this is a worthwhile book about the immigrant experience in general, and Afghani culture specifically. Fadi is a likable hero who learns from his mistakes, and whose talent allows him to make a unique contribution to finding his sister, for the inevitable happy ending.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
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Beginning in the months before 9/11, this sensitive, timely debut follows an Afghan family's emigration to San Francisco. After receiving a PhD in the U.S. and returning to Kabul to help rebuild the country, Fadi's father has grown disillusioned with the Taliban (“These are not true Muslims”), and he pays human traffickers to smuggle his family into Pakistan. During the terrifying flight, Fadi's six-year-old sister, Mariam, is lost. After fruitless, life-risking searches, the grief-stricken family tries to begin anew in California, while overseas efforts to find Mariam continue. Conversations often feel purposeful as Senzai educates readers about U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Afghan cultural diversity, and the Qur'an's fundamental messages of peace. But she writes with powerful, realistic detail about Fadi's family's experiences, particularly the prejudice Fadi finds at school after planes hit the Twin Towers and the guilt he suffers over Mariam's disappearance. An abrupt but satisfying contrivance brings this illuminating docu-novel to a joyful conclusion, and young readers may well want to move on to the appended resources to learn more. Grades 4-7. --Gillian EngbergSee all Editorial Reviews
Had to read this for school surprisingly wasn't bad a lot of things are predictable would recommend for ages 8-12Published 2 months ago by Fmf
I really loved this book. It was a great story and it was good to read a story from the perspective of an Afghan refugee around 9/11.Published 3 months ago by OK in OK
This book made me really think about what it was like to be in that time, of war and discrimination. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Heidi
Having spent 4 yrs. in Peshawar (1983-1987) This book had special meanings for me. It is an excellent book. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Mary Ellen Bateman
To be honest, I struggled with this book from the beginning. After a couple of chapters, I finally started to realize my struggle with the text. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Jen Kelley
Excellent read, especially if one has served in Afghanistan & knows something of the country's Tragic History!Published 7 months ago by Stacey
Excellent. Great insight for adolescent cultural learning.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
I loved this book with its beautifully written perspectives that painted a picture in my mind. Its was a heartfelt story that must be read. Read morePublished 8 months ago by game rater