Reviews for Shooting Kabul

Booklist Reviews 2010 June #1
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. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Fadi's family flees from Kabul, Afghanistan, to Fremont, California, in 2001. His six-year-old sister, Mariam, is left behind during their escape, for which Fadi wrongly feels responsible. He enters a photography contest to win a plane ticket to Peshawar so he can try to track down Mariam. The story is timely, but coincidences in the plot lessen its believability. Reading list, websites. Glos. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 May #1
As 11-year-old Fadi Nurzai and his family escape from Afghanistan in the summer of 2001, the Taliban show up, forcing their truck driver to take off abruptly, and Fadi's little sister Mariam is accidentally left behind. Mother, father, older sister Noor and Fadi all blame themselves as they make their way to California. Fadi's goal becomes finding a way to go back and rescue Mariam, and he sees a chance in a local photography contest, one prize being a trip to India. Debut novelist Senzai crafts a wrenching tale, based on her husband's Soviet-era experience, putting a human face on the war in Afghanistan. Though the blending of fiction and exposition is uneasy at times, and the resolution too quick and reliant on coincidence, it's an ambitious story with much to offer: a likable protagonist in Fadi, an original and engaging plot and a lens through which readers will learn much about the current conflict. A great match with Suzanne Fisher Staples's Under the Persimmon Tree (2005) and Deborah Ellis's Breadwinner Trilogy. (map, author's note, further reading, websites) (Fiction. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

This hard-hitting, emotionally nuanced first novel views the experiences of a family of Afghan refugees through the lens of 11-year-old Fadi. Fadi's U.S. educated parents repatriated to Afghanistan, only to have the Taliban impose order, ending his mother's career, necessitating homeschooling for the children, and creating a dangerous, oppressive environment. When his mother's health finally forces the family to leave, Senzai portrays the high cost of escape as not just economic (,000, "the family's entire savings") but human, through the shattering loss of Fadi's six-year-old sister, who hesitates to grab a precious Barbie and is left behind. "Fadi looked from the edge of truck's railing in disbelief. His six-year-old sister had been lost because of him." Senzai skillfully focuses Fadi's guilt against the backdrop of this grief and his adjustments to life in Fremont, California's Little Kabul (during 9/11); as Fadi discovers a photography club and contest that might earn him tickets to India, he fantasizes about rescuing his sister. Though cultural, religious, and political pressures persist, the satisfying surprise ending offers the family hope and redemption. Ages 8-12. (June)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 June

Gr 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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