Rating: 3.5 stars.
Fadi and his family escape Afganistan in the summer of 2001, but through an unfortunate event, his younger sister is left behind. Fadi attempts to adjust to American life, blaming himself for Mariam’s loss and finding hope in photography.
I saw this book on a list of “12 Novels That Will Make y0u see the World Differently”, and thought that the description and the age range put it high on my radar. I wish that I’d liked it more. Despite the fact that the subject matter was ripe with conflict, it was very simplistically executed. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, and its great to guide younger readers on this subject matter, but I would have preferred it to be a little grittier.
Fadi was an identifiable character. Your heart broke for him and you could empathize with how he truly blamed himself for his sister’s disappearance. He didn’t strike me as the brightest of characters considering some of his actions. He was still relatable enough to want to follow along in his story. I’d have also like to see more from his older sister Noor. She felt like a blank character with a lot of potential.
The whole “September 2001” setting really set up an interesting stage, but it didn’t feel like there was that much there done with it outside of a few bullying incidents.
Recommendations: This book has no inappropriate content and the language is incredibly simplistic, as is the story. It’s a solid all ages read, geared towards younger audiences (grade 3/4-7). Its definitely a book that makes you appreciate what you have, but at the same time, it’s a little too simple for your older readers.
In case you’re curious about the rest of the list:12 Novels that will make you see the world differently