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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books; Reprint edition (July 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442401958
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442401952
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

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 Engberg --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

I grew up speaking two languages, balancing life lived on the edge of two cultures, and, happily, two cuisines--tandoori chicken and hot dogs, grilled side by side on the 4th of July. I got on a plane for the first time at two months, in Chicago, IL, where I was born, and have been travelling ever since. I grew up in San Francisco, Jubail, Saudi Arabia, and attended boarding school in London, England where I was voted "most likely to lead a literary revolution" due to my ability to get away with reading comic books in class. I've hiked across the Alps, road-tripped through Mexico, swum with barracudas in the Red Sea, taken a train across the Soviet Union, floated down the Nile, eaten gumbo in New Orleans and sat in contemplation at the Taj Mahal. Now I've landed back home in San Francisco where I live with my husband, a professor of political science, my son, and a cat who owns us.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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For teachers this is a great book to read to your class.
Fischer Lund
It has a story line that moves quickly with an outcome you really care about and sympathetic, three dimensional characters.
imtiaz
Any book that encourages understanding of different cultures and ways of life is valuable.
Keith Nichols

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am often very kind in my assessment of particular books because of their purpose. Such is the case with "Shooting Kabul" by newcomer to writing, N. H. Senzai, who grew up in San Francisco and Saudi Arabia. She tells the reader it is a story that had to be told, one that continued to niggle at the back of her head.

"Shooting Kabul" is loosely based on her husband as a child and his family leaving Afghanistan because of the Taliban. It involves degrees in agriculture earned in the United States and a return to Afghanistan to improve farming techniques. After the Taliban's return to primitivism and total control of government and culture, the family's efforts (and efforts of many other families) were no longer wanted. It became unsafe to stay, thus a dark-of-night escape to asylum in the United States.

But that's not why I gave this book five stars. The writing, plotting, characters, plot conflicts--all would rate four stars. Ends are too conveniently tied and plot events are manipulated. But guess what? I don't care. What makes this book stand out and why it gets five stars requires a list. Here's why "Shooting Kabul" is a five-star book for children 9-12 and any older audience who wants to know more about Afghan culture.

1. The novel provides an up-close look at a typical Afghan family, actually, a Pukhtun family. The Pukhtuns make up the largest ethnic group of the Afghan peoples, comprising 42 percent of the population. The reader learns a little about religion, language, food, daily habits, family life. A "little" means just enough to weave into the story without overdoing it. The glossary of unfamiliar names and Afghan factos is included in the back of the book, as well as a further reading list.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Medeia Sharif on July 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fadi is a sweet Afghan boy who adores photography, the novel FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER, and his family. Fleeing from the Taliban in a truck with other escapees, his family loses his little sister Mariam. It is too dangerous to turn back and find Mariam, which causes heartache for the whole family. Settling in the United States in a post 9/11 atmosphere, Fadi rockily adjusts to life in California. Money is tight, classmates are bigots and, most importantly, he misses Mariam. An opportunity presents itself: there is a chance to find Mariam, and Fadi is determined to do whatever it takes to save his little sister in a Claudia-like/Mixed-Up Files fashion. Warning: You may need a box of tissue at hand while reading this. This was beautifully written and it's something I would read again.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on July 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Fadi Nurzai and his family had no choice but to leave Afghanistan. The Taliban had completed their rise to power, and rather than bring all the good they talked about, they provided nothing but bloodshed. Fadi's father, Habib, had secured the family safe passage to America in the summer of 2001 as long as they could cross the border. The plan was to meet a truck that would carry them across to Peshawar, Pakistan. Fadi was in charge of his six-year-old sister, Mariam, while his older sister, Noor, helped with their sick mother, Zafoona. All was going according to plan until the Taliban made an unexpected appearance, and in the turmoil that ensued, the unthinkable happened --- Mariam is left behind.

After a few desperate attempts to return and find her, the Nurzais are forced to fly to America and receive asylum. While staying with relatives in San Francisco, Fadi must go on with life. He begins middle school with the realization that leaving Mariam behind was his fault, and he will do anything to get her back. As Habib, Zafoona, Noor and Fadi plot how to return to Afghanistan to find Mariam, they are dealt another devastating blow: September 11, 2001. They watch in horror as terrorists attack the World Trade Center. After they learn that the people responsible are linked to terrorist groups within Afghanistan, any hope of returning to find Mariam is lost.

September 11th also makes it difficult for Fadi at school. Kids assume he is responsible for what happened in New York and go out of their way to make life miserable for him. So Fadi tries to find solace in the little things, especially photography. He is encouraged to join the photography club by his new friend, Anh, and stumbles upon the answer to his prayers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R B on January 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought this book was interesting, insightful and had a touching story. It is an excellent read for middle school and up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lori Katz on November 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In SHOOTING KABUL by N.H. Senzai Fadi and his family leave Afghanistan weeks before September 11, 2001. His father has been asked to join the Taliban and instead he chooses to leave the country. On the evening of their escape, Mariam the youngest child accidently is left behind. Each member of the family feels responsible for what happened but Fadi most of all and this is his story. Filled with Afghani history, religion, family and food this is a wonderful story. When I finished the book I wanted more. More of Fadi and life in the US. And perhaps Mariam's story too. One of my favorite books of 2010. For 4th graders and up.
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