The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky by Farah Ahmedi, Tamim Ansary
“I was late to school, and that’s all I could think about. I started across the field. And then suddenly a fire flashed in my face and the earth seemed to move beneath my feet. I remember a shower of soil and then nothing. I woke up on the ground, surrounded by a crowd, men and boys…no women. They were all staring down at me with huge eyes. Their lips were moving, but I could hear no voices. All I heard was a loud ringing in my ears.”
How is that for a gripping opening?
All the more if you realize that this novel is nonfiction. It is an autobiography.
Farah Ahmedi is born at a time when the war between the mujahideen and the Soviets reaches its peak in Afghanistan. Bombs are falling all over the country, and her native city of Kabul is bursting at the seams with hundreds of thousands of people looking for homes and jobs. The sounds of gunfire and fighter planes are as normal to Farah as the sounds of traffic or children playing are to a schoolgirl in America. When Farah steps on a land mine on her way to school, her world becomes much smaller than the dreams and hopes in her heart. She begins to learn–slowly–that ordinary people, often strangers, have immense power to save lives and restore hope.
“The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky” recounts an epic journey. It shows what a childhood in Afghanistan is like, where classrooms are bare spaces with only chalkboards on the walls and are filled with more students than seats (and no books). In Kabul, they cancel school because of rockets and bombings; in Chicago, Farah might have a snow day. In Kabul, a schoolgirl wears a black dress and a white headscarf; inAmerica, girls need the right jeans and trendy tops.
Thanks to a number of good people who crossed her path at critical moments, Farah is thriving. She may be haunted by her past, but she is no longer enslaved by it. Farah is now a proud American citizen and, in this time of new refugees coming from another country, this might be timely read.