Summary: Yasmine’s parents have moved her to Afghanistan with idealistic hopes of helping to change the country. Their outsider ways and liberal beliefs attract unwanted attention, and put all of their lives in serious danger from the Taliban. Along the way Yasmine’s parents hire Tamanna to be her companion and the two become the best of friends since going to school is not an option. When the situation turns deadly, their friendship is put to the test as they are forced to make a perilous journey, but the kindness of strangers and family persistence will pull them through.
Number of Pages: 247
Age Range: 13-15
Review: Sharon E. McKay provides us with a powerful story about Afghanistan’s growth as a country in the face of Taliban insurgence and foreign assistance through the eyes of Yasmine, an outsider girl who grows to call Afghanistan home. Her examination of Afghanistan’s complicated history and present is incisive, somewhat philosophical, but still hopeful.
Thunder Over Kandahar is one of those books that thrusts you into a different perspective smoothly, while still being a great story. I enjoyed learning about what life is like in Afghanistan for a girl through Yasmine’s experiences, and appreciated that McKay also brings in other characters to provide her readers with a well-rounded perspective of the country’s challenges.
But what I liked the most was McKay’s over-arching message that education is the key to change. If Tamanna’s brother had known how to read, would he have believed everything the Taliban told him? If everyone was educated, would girls and women still be so restricted in their actions or would they become equal to men? After reading this book, I am more aware of how lucky I am to live in Canada, and hopeful that things will change for Afghanistan in the future through people who are dedicated to making that happen.
Thunder Over Kandahar is a deeper read for early to mid teen girls that is both educating and entertaining.
“‘Do we not all want universal peace? Is that not what we strive for? It is a university, a place for discussion.’ Baba sounded indignant now.
‘Here, today, discussion can kill, my friend. We are living in a dark time. We suffered through many years of Russian occupation, and then came chaos and fighting between warlords, each with their private armies. But how could we know that the worst was yet to come? We thought the Taliban, ruling in the name of Allah, would bring us stability.'” – conversation between Baba and Professor Maywand from Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McKay, page 17
“Teacher wagged his finger. ‘We have been occupied but never conquered. To know about history is to know that dark times pass and after the dark there is light. You must remember that always.'” – Teacher from Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McKay, page 56
“‘Allah has made women to suffer,’ said Mor.” – Mor from Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McKay, page 66
“‘I wish with all my heart that you were in school. I love my country, Daughter, but here we have been robbed of our most precious gifts: thoughts and imagination. Only in an atmosphere of peace and security can artists, poets, and writers flourish. Without our artists and storytellers, we have no history, and without history our future is unmoored – we drift. It is art, never war, that carries culture forward.” – Baba from Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McKay, pages 79-80
“‘My husband was a teacher and I a good student. You think that I am ignorant because I live in the mountains. I am strong. All the women of Afghanistan are strong. We will endure.’ Ariana looked away, but it was too late, Yasmine could see tears in her eyes.” – Ariana from Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McKay, page 163
“‘It is possible to love a country, even one that I was not born in, but hate its politics. In this part of the world it is not only possible, it is probable.'” – Nicolette from Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McKay, page 217
“Mina leaned in close. She smelled of flowers and mountain air. ‘We wait until it is safe for us to return. We are young, we are educated, we are strong. If we too run away, what hope is there for our country? It is not the West that the old mullahs fear. It is modernity. Anything modern or new is a challenge to their way of thinking. Education is our only hope. Meanwhile, Babrak and I support the medical efforts of Dr. Latouche and others who would help our people – all our people, not one tribe over another. We are all Afghans first.'” – Mina from Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McKay, page 225
“The hard times, the fear, the heartbreak and loss would never be forgotten, but love for each other, family, and their country would triumph.” – from Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McKay, page 247