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Author: Senzai, N. H.
Fleeing the Afghanistan Taliban, Fadi and his family go to the San Francisco Bay Area, but he plans to return to the Pakistani refugee camp to get his little sister.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.40
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 138279
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 5.30
Points: 13.0 Quiz: 48803
School Library Journal - 06/01/2010 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 - Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2010 Just past midnight on an August night in 2001, Fadi Nurzai and his family wait in a moonlit street in Jalabad, Afghanistan, hoping to board a truck bound for the Pakistani border. They scramble into the back of the truck just before Taliban soldiers reach their position, but Fadi’s six-year-old sister, Mariam, slips out of his grasp as he tries to lift her, and she is left behind when the truck pulls away. While Fadi’s father delays their journey to search for Mariam, the family is ultimately forced to travel on to the United States without her, spreading word to friends and family back in Afghanistan in hopes she will be found. As Fadi adjusts to his new life in the San Francisco area and starts middle school, he must also deal with the guilt he feels over Mariam’s loss, pinning his hopes on a photo contest that features a grand prize of traveling to India. The story, based loosely on the life of the author’s husband, backdrops Fadi’s personal struggles with the considerable world events going on in 2001, including the 9/11 attacks on New York City. The abundance of facts about Afghanistan and the book’s jumps between live action and expository flashbacks sometimes distance the reader and bog down the action, but they grow less obtrusive as the story continues. Tailor-made for classroom applications, the tale is also compelling, and the compassionate portrayals of Fadi and his family (who are eventually reunited with their lost daughter) will keep readers engaged. This will be a natural fit for curricula and discussions about the 9/11 attacks and the ongoing war in Afghanistan. An author’s note, glossary, and further reading list are included. MH - Copyright 2010 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 06/01/2010 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.