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Shooting Kabul


Shooting Kabul

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. The club will be entering a contest where the first place winner gets a new camera and a trip to China, Kenya, or India. Realizing how close India is to Afghanistan, Fadi tells himself he must win in order to return and find Mariam.

While his family hires private investigators, checks refugee camp registrations, and gobbles up any small pieces of information, Fadi spends his time photographing the sights of San Francisco. With failure not an option, he takes the perfect picture of his grandparents and submits it with the expectation of winning. All hope of finding Mariam is resting on this photograph, but is it good enough to win? 

It’s easy to forget that more than American citizens were impacted by the September 11th attacks. N. H. Senzai provides another viewpoint on the tragedy that is important to remember. While Senzai does delve into the devastating implications of the attack, she also provides a story of hope and resurgence that anyone can relate to. SHOOTING KABUL is an important addition to all the 9/11 literature, and young readers will especially be rooting for Fadi to succeed.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on July 12, 2011

Shooting Kabul
by N. H. Senzai

  • Publication Date: July 12, 2011
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • ISBN-10: 1442401958
  • ISBN-13: 9781442401952