Twelve-year-old Ariana has always been proud of her Afghan heritage and the family grocery store owned by her father and uncle. When her cousin Laila moves into her home, and her room, Ariana begins to realize how little she knows about her own culture. Newly arrived from Afghanistan, the graceful and mature Laila relates to the girls’ grandmother and older relatives in ways that Ariana cannot. Laila is so perfect that she may even steal Ariana’s best friend Miriam away.

Ariana may not be as genteel as Laila, but she is intelligent and perceptive. She is the first to discover that a rival Afghan store is opening in their neighborhood and realizes that this spells trouble for her family. As tempers flare among the adults, Ariana follows her instincts. With the help of Miriam, Laila and the competing store owner’s son, Ariana solves the mystery behind the store rivalry. She also learns that, in spite of their differences, she and Laila both have unique gifts to contribute to their family life.

N.H. Senzai’s companion book to Shooting Kabul weaves together aspects of various cultures represented by immigrants forging a new life in a new country. It also demonstrates that blood is truly thicker than water. Ariana knows in her heart that her jealousy will hurt no one but herself. Her feelings are so realistic that readers will be able to identify completely with this heroine. At the same time, her regret at her initial resentments demonstrates a budding maturity and compassion that allow her to grow as a person. While the book may not contain any surprises, the family ties and loyal friendships that result from the plot’s conflict make this story a lovely read for pre-teen girls.

Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher living in Ridgewood, NJ.

Jennifer Minicus

Jennifer Minicus lives in New Jersey with her husband and son. A former French, Latin and mathematics teacher, Jennifer currently enjoys the responsibilities of a "domestic engineer", particularly making...