Title: Thunder Over Kandahar
Author: Sharon E. McKay
Publisher: Annick Press
Province: Prince Edward Island
Book Source: borrowed from local library
Synopsis (from the book jacket):
Best friends Tamanna and Yasmine cannot believe their good fortune when a school is set up in their Afghan village; however, their dreams for the future are shattered when the Taliban burns down the school and threatens the teacher and students with death.
As Tamanna faces an arranged marriage to an older man and the Taliban targets Yasmine’s Western-educated family, the girls realize they must flee. Traveling through the heart of Taliban territory, the two unaccompanied young women find themselves in mortal danger. After suffering grave injuries, Tamanna from a fall and Yasmine from a suicide bombing, the girls are left without the one thing that has helped them survive — each other.
Thunder Over Kandahar is an important book, because its ripped-from-the-headlines plot makes the turbulence in Afghanistan accessible and impactful for a teen audience. This provides a window into a culture and conflict many North American kids may be unfamiliar with, and since (in my view, at least) one of the functions of a novel is to build empathy, Thunder is wildly successful. McKay uses a third-person-omniscient point of view, however, and while there are advantages to dipping inside the heads of every character in a scene, I found it a trifle distancing. I wonder how the book’s impact would have changed if written in deep POV, alternating between the two heroines. This might just be me, however, and it certainly shouldn’t dissuade readers who are interested in the subject matter from giving this book a chance.
I would recommend, though, NOT reading Thunder immediately after finishing Reading Lolita in Tehran (which is absolutely not a kids’ book). Reading is my primary form of entertainment, and tackling these two books back-to-back was a little less entertaining and a bit more painful than I was expecting. Then again, another function of novels (and not just in my opinion!) can be to make us uncomfortable as we’re forced to examine ideas we’d normally prefer not to think about, so if that’s your ball o’ wax, have at it!
Do you enjoy reading books about other cultures? What purpose do novels serve in your life? (If you say you use them to level wobbly tables, we can no longer be friends. 🙂 )
For more information on Sharon E. McKay, check out her website. This is my fourth stop of the Thirteen Book Challenge, part of Amy’s Marathon of Books. Amy’s Marathon is raising money to fund a new award for Canadian teen fiction, and if you’d like to donate to this awesome cause, click the button!
Coming soon on my whirlwind cross-country tour:
New Brunswick: Hemlock, by Kathleen Peacock
Quebec: Rough Magic, by Caryl Cude Mullin
Ontario: Plain Kate, by Erin Bow
Alberta: Dreamfire, by Nicole Luiken