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Thunder Over Kandahar

Thunder Over Kandahar

Photographs by Rafal Gerszak
By Sharon McKay
Interest Age: 12+
Grade: 7+
Reading Age: 12+
Paperback : 9781554512669, 264 pages, September 2010 , 8.50" x 5.50"
Rights sold: English


A powerful novel of enduring friendship set amid the terror and chaos of present-day Afghanistan.

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. Reunited years later in England, Tamanna and Yasmine discover that, despite the horrific events of the past, they are both driven to return home by memories of their families and a longing for their country.

The book features stunning photographs by award-winning photojournalist Rafal Gerszak (The New York Times, BBC World News) that bring readers an immediate sense of the faces and landscape of Afghanistan. Filled with tension and drama, Thunder Over Kandahar paints a vivid portrait of the perils of contemporary Afghanistan.


“Fast-paced action and appealing characters . . . bring young readers face to face with the realities of modern Afghanistan, both the dark and the light. ”

- Quill & Quire, 12/10

“The girls’ alternating viewpoints capture the heartbreaking trauma, and concerned young people will be caught up in the issues, including the roles of foreigners and the UN, as well as the oppression of women. ” 

- Booklist, 12/10

“Paints a vivid picture of the struggles among the disparate groups of Afghan people to survive the atrocities of the Taliban. ”

- US Review of Books, 05/11

“An excellent, suspenseful novel for young people interested in the Afghan conflict and who wish to learn about some of the issues in this conflict. ”

- Libris Notes, 05/06/12

“McKay . . . portrays the unsettled nature of life in a war-torn country and especially the plight of the women who have virtually no decision-making powers. Highly recommended. ”

- Resource Links, 12/10

“Provides a gripping, empathetic look at one of the most dangerous and misogynistic societies in existence today through the believable, inspiring characters of Yasmine and her friend Tamanna. Highly Recommended. ”

- CM Reviews, 12/10

“The novel is perhaps best understood not as a fictional slice of contemporary conflict, but as a more enduring example of extreme circumstances inspiring selflessness. ”

- Foreword Reviews, 11/10

“This story is so vivid you could believe that Yasmine is real. The heart-stopping action is also tragically real for many children throughout Afghanistan. ”

- Canadian Teacher, 05/11

“What shines through this sad narrative is the love Afghans have for their country . . . [a] gripping tale. ”

- School Library Journal, 12/10

“Filled with drama and tension [this story] realistically portrays contemporary life in Afghanistan. ”

- Library Media Connection, *starred review, 05/11

“This suspenseful tale . . . makes riveting reading. ”

- Kirkus Reviews, 10/10

“A riveting and suspenseful story . . . This book is an essential read for students in Grade 7 and up. ”

- Professionally Speaking, 06/11

“This story is so vivid you could believe that Yasmine is real. The heart-stopping action is also tragically real for many children throughout Afghanistan. ”

- Canadian Teacher, 05/11