born under a million shadows by Andrea Busfield

It is the point where the Taliban have moved away from the street’s of Kabul, but so much of what they had done remains.  The streets are still a place of possible danger with car bombings and shootings and young children like Fawad have seen a lifetime of violence before even reaching their tenth birthday.  Fawad now lives with his mother alone.  His father and brother have been killed and his sister had been abducted during a house raid years before.

Things start to look up when Fawad’s mother Mariya, finds work as a housekeeper for a modern western woman named Georgia, and her two foreign friends.  This moves Fawad out of his bitter aunts home and into a whole new world as he learns about aid workers and journalists.  As Fawad learns through some humorous western ways and worries for Georgie and her relationship with the powerful Afghan warlord Haji Khan, he grows in his knowledge of the world and the people in it, bringing a new hope and faith to his life.

My name is Fawad, and my mother tells me I was born under the shadow of the Taliban.

Because she said no more, I imagined her stepping out of the sunshine and into the dark, crouching in a corner to protect the stomach that was hiding me, while a man with a stick watched over us, ready to beat me into the world.

This is the opening paragraph of Born Under A Million Shadows.  I breathed in the words and rushed on with anticipation almost feeling the heat of Afghanistan fall over me.  I was so ready for this  novel to take me in much like Kite Runner did – I could imagine where the plot would go….

and I was wrong.

As author Andrea Busfield would say, “This is not another Kite Runner.”

I discovered this quickly as I read along and found that Andrea had a witty and  biting sense of humor, and she showed it through the character of Fawad.

“He’s a charmer,” my mother admitted as we talked about Georgie’s friendship.  “He could talk the birds from the trees that man.”

“Shir Ahmand talks to the dogs in the street,” I offered.

“It’s not quite the same thing,” she replied.

“What do you mean then?”

“You’ll find out soon enough Fawad, because if I am not mistaken you’ve got the same gift – although right now you only seem capable of talking the hind legs off a donkey.  But it’ll come son, it’ll come.”

And my mother went back to her chores, leaving me to think about my future talent and my current, previously unknown, ability to cripple donkeys.

The story is told in Fawad’s voice and I enjoyed seeing how strange he found westerners ways.  The book finds Fawad at a very curious age.  He is not a little boy any more, and he is not yet a man.  His feelings of how the westerners dress amused me.  His concern for their souls was a constant throughout the book.

Not expecting the humor, at first I wasn’t sure that I liked it in a book about Afghanistan…. but despite my first thoughts, I found out soon I could not help but smile and fall in love with the words.   Funny, witty, intelligent, I learned things in this book about the Taliban, the culture, the country, that I had not before known.  It took no time at all for me to have trouble putting the book down as it followed my from house, to deck, to car, to gym….

Overall, I came to the end of this book impressed with a well written story that covered the realities of Afghanistan and the children who live there, but not in a heavy manner.  This is not Kite Runner, but it is its own self standing book.  Andrea Busfield comes across to me as an author I will watch for to see what she writes next.

Author Andrea Busfield is a British journalist who traveled to Afghanistan to cover the fall of the Taliban in 2001.   Watch for my author chat with Andrea Busfield coming later today!

Amazon Rating

Book Journey has updated the 2010 reading Map to include born under a million shadows

286 pages

Years of war have left many Afghanistan children mentally and physically scarred.  Many parents have been killed or disabled.  In some cases whole families have been displaced.  To make a difference to an Afghan child, please visit this site that Andrea recommends:

Cover story:  It is a perfect cover – a young boy running and looking back – speaks to me just like the book itself.

Note:  there is some crude language in the book, mainly used by the young boys.  I felt it was more cultural than offensive.

I borrowed this copy of the book from our local library

I first heard of this book at Laughing Stars Blog

51 thoughts on “born under a million shadows by Andrea Busfield

    1. I did too Amy. At first it surprised me, I wasn’t expecting humor. Then I found Fawad just to be funny in his thinking and really enjoyed his take on things.

  1. I think I have this book-if not I need to get it-have you read The Bookseller of Kabul and Kabul Beauty School. Both great books.

    1. Jill, I was getting into the book….. I think……. let me check…..

      Yup – all good, I have a firm grip on the book and my hand is not slumped…LOL 😀

  2. Thanks for your review. I read this book a while ago and enjoyed seeing it through another reader’s eyes.

  3. Excellent review. You made me want to read it … and that would take some doing as I tend to avoid books with this subject matter. I love the excerpts you shared.

  4. I will have to check out this book. Humor is present even in some of the most dire circumstances. Some times it is all that keeps people sane. The children hold on to it longer than the adult in situations like this. I am glad Ms. Busfield has chosen to tap into that.

    1. Pat excellent comment here and you are right… Its funny to think of as Fawad was funny but the way it is written I don’t know if he thought he was… its more – witty and clever. He just made me smile.

  5. Glad to know this is not another Kite Runner–not sure I could read another one. But I do love to read books about other cultures and places and learn about the peoples lives to I think this will be going on the wish list.

  6. This is an amazing book …I laughed so much in chapter 26…..I lived many years in Iran thriugh the Revolution and through the Iran Iraq war.. so I felt so at home with the story……I will treasure this book like the jewel it is………thank you….

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