On My Bookshelf: Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai

May 29, 2017

In Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai, the night that Fadi and his family flee the Taliban's control is full of peril and in one terrible moment, the youngest sister is separated from the family and left behind in Afghanistan. Once in America, Fadi, his parents, and his sister struggle to assimilate while holding on to the hope that Mariam will be found. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: In the summer of 2001, twelve year old Fadi’s parents make the difficult decision to illegally leave Afghanistan and move the family to the United States. When their underground transport arrives at the rendezvous point, chaos ensues, and Fadi is left dragging his younger sister Mariam through the crush of people. But Mariam accidentally lets go of his hand and becomes lost in the crowd, just as Fadi is snatched up into the truck. With Taliban soldiers closing in, the truck speeds away, leaving Mariam behind.

Adjusting to life in the United States isn’t easy for Fadi’s family and as the events of September 11th unfold the prospects of locating Mariam in a war torn Afghanistan seem slim. When a photography competition with a grand prize trip to India is announced, Fadi sees his chance to return to Afghanistan and find his sister. But can one photo really bring Mariam home? Based in part on the Ms. Senzai’s husband’s own experience fleeing his home in Soviet controlled Afghanistan in the 1970s, Shooting Kabul is a powerful story of hope, love, and perseverance.
In Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai, the night that Fadi and his family flee the Taliban's control is full of peril and in one terrible moment, the youngest sister is separated from the family and left behind in Afghanistan. Once in America, Fadi, his parents, and his sister struggle to assimilate while holding on to the hope that Mariam will be found. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

Why I liked it: Shooting Kabul is set in a time period similar to The Kite RunnerFadi's family flees Afghanistan because of the Taliban’s increasing control over the country. The family lived in the United States while their father attended university, but returned to Afghanistan to help rebuild the country after the Soviets’ control ended. With his degree in agriculture, he helped rid the country of opium and plant crops. At first the Taliban seemed to be a force of positive change, but as their control increases, it becomes dangerous for their father to remain. The night of their escape is full of peril and in one terrible moment, the youngest sister is separated from the family and left behind in Afghanistan. The family joins extended family members living in the Little Kabul area of San Francisco. Fadi feels uncomfortable at school, but makes a few friends in the photography club. I appreciated the realism of the family's struggles to assimilate and start over in the United States.

Classroom application: September 11th occurs shortly after the family settles in San Francisco. There is increased hostility and violence toward Muslims and individuals mistaken as Muslims. Students could research the treatment of these groups following September 11th and many of the misconceptions about the Islamic religion.


Connections could also be made with the current refugee crisis in Syria. Students could explore the process of seeking asylum.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Shooting Kabul  for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:



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