When twelve year old Fadi’s father, Habib, decided to move his family back to Afghanistan he did so with the intention of helping rebuild his homeland after the Soviet occupation. He did not know that the Taliban would become an oppressive government. Returning to the United States, where Habib had earned his PhD, seemed the only solution. In spite of the dangers involved, Habib packed up his ailing wife, Fadi and Fadi’s two sisters, Noor and Mariam. One night, the five went out to board a truck headed for the border of Pakistan. Unfortunately, the Taliban arrived just as Fadi, clinging to little Mariam’s hand, was yanked onto the truck. All would have gone as planned, except that Mariam’s hand was sweaty and slipped out of Fadi’s as the truck pulled away.
Blaming himself for his sister’s disappearance, Fadi spends several months in San Francisco anxiously awaiting news of his missing sister. He is determined to do what he can to find her. When a photography contest with a grand prize of a ticket to India is proposed at school, Fadi sees his chance. He can use his favorite hobby to get back to Asia and search for Mariam himself. The contest is not Fadi’s only challenge, however. Making friends in a new school is never easy, and the attacks of September 11th only serve to fuel the fire of discrimination among some of Fadi’s classmates.
Shooting Kabul is a wonderful story about family loyalty. Parents, siblings and extended family members stand united in the face of tragedy and contradiction. Fadi’s sense of responsibility is admirable, and his relationship with his father is one of trust and deep, mutual respect. He struggles with both shame and anger when confronted by prejudice, but does not allow his feelings to control his actions. He and his friends handle racism in a creative, effective and non-violent manner. Shooting Kabul has much to teach middle school aged students on a variety of topics.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.