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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Born Under a Million Shadows
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on 14 August 2017
I enjoyed the British humour and it was very entertaining to read. However, I don't think the author was quite able to get into the thoughts of a young Afghan boy. The type of comments made by Fawad wasn't realistic.
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on 10 June 2017
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on 24 August 2014
I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of a Khalid Hosseini book. The story is beautifully told and kept me interested till the end.
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on 21 August 2017
Lovely story
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on 2 September 2009
This is a wonderful book, easy to get into and hard to put down. The news we hear of Afghanistan, full of military operations, casualties, opium harvests and fraudulent elections, makes it hard to imagine growing up there. Andrea Busfield achieves this on our behalf. Her narrator an eleven - or perhaps twelve - year old boy opens with: "My name is Fawad and my mother tells me I was born under the shadow of the Taliban."

Taking this literally he thinks of her, `stepping out of the sunshine and into the dark', and this child's way of seeing the puzzling world around him sets the tone. We encounter the horrors and hardships through his innocent eyes and although he speaks of his fear and his sadness there is also humour and joy.

At the start of the book Fawad's father and brother have been killed, his sister abducted and their home burnt down. They live without welcome or comfort with his aunt and young cousins who beg from and hustle foreigners. Life improves overnight when Farad's mother gets a position as housekeeper to three foreigners living in a wealthy suburb of Kabul. Georgie, James and May are all trying to improve life for local people while sorting out their own problems and destinies, struggles viewed by Fawad with a wonderful mixture of sympathy, insight and perplexity.

Fawad is a Muslim and it is one of the strengths of this book that it portrays the acceptance of his own religion and a respect for the cultural Christianity of his employers as a fact of everyday life.

Although life is briefly peaceful after the move things don't stand still and the story unfolds with drama and tragedy but enough of a happy ending to leave the reader feeling uplifted and hopeful.
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on 14 April 2010
This book was a pleasure to read. Combining the foreign characters with the locals is very well done, and is true to the actual reality. The statements that Fawad comes out with, and his exchanges with the local shop owner is so very amusing. Born Under a Million Shadows is about the day to day life of Afghans, and Ms Busfield demonstrates that she truly understands the culture and family traits. The story line is delightful despite the shadow of sorrow, and it was enjoyable to read a book about real people "on the floor" with only minimal politics to help set the "scene".

I greatly look forward to the release of Ms. Busfield's second book.
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on 7 April 2011
I read/listened to this book last Summer and was so moved by this story, that I just wanted to know more about the author. I was intrigued by what type of woman could right such a book. I found that she was a journalist who lived and worked in Afganistan for many years and during the most intensive part of the recent war.

It is a story of relationships on so many levels. The relationships between the Westeners and Afganies; between street children; men and women; mother and son; the ideology of religion and the practicalities of life in a war torn city.

This book discribes the HORRIBLE why war totaly distroys peoples lifes and in parts does not make easy reading/listening, but it is a love story, and hope and love is in it's heart and ending. It was a joy to read such a hopful story.

I have recomended this book to all of my friends, and I can not put a high enough recomendation on it to any one else.

It's just wonderful.
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VINE VOICEon 31 October 2010
I listened to the unabridged audio version of this book during a recent long journey and the miles flew by. The author has hit just that perfect balance between putting across a serious message and making a book entertaining. For a book set in Afghanistan it has some wonderfully humorous momnents too.

Fawad is an 11yr old boy, living with his mother in an aunt's house. His father and two brothers are dead and no-one knows what has become of his sister since she was abducted by the Taliban. They have barely enough money to feed and clothe themselves, with nothing remaining to pay rent. Fawad runs with the local children, begging and stealing money from unsuspecting foreigners.
Their luck changes dramatically when his mother gets work as housemaid to a group of foreigners who share a house. She does all their cleaning and cooking and Fawad is allowed to live there with them. Georgie, James and May are wonderful characters and the interactions are great fun.
Fawad gets work in a local grocery store run by a blind man who is a constant source of insights into life and interactions between people; he has an opinion on everything.
As time passes over a period of about 18 months, there are both happy and sad moments but the book is ultimately uplifting.

The audiobook was beautifully read by Mark Meadows, bringing all the characters to life and I would thoroughly recommend either the written or audio versions.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 1 January 2011
Fawad is an 11 year old boy living in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban. Having lost his father, brother and sister, he lives with his mother, Mariya, who works as a servant for three westerners sharing a house. Fawad becomes close to Georgie, May and James, even if their non-Muslim ways (they drink alcohol, one reads pornography and one is a lesbian) sometimes shock him. Nevertheless, Fawad is drawn into their lives and becomes especially close to Georgie, who is having a relationship with a high profile Afghan warlord. The book takes place over the course of a year, and Fawad's experiences reflect many of the realities of living in Afganistan today.

It's a very interesting setting for a novel and I learned a lot about Afghanistan. However I felt that the plot was somewhat aimless. It's an easy book to read, but I never felt particularly caught up in it, until the end when I realised how fond I had got of the characters. I felt that the choice to use a child as narrator meant that we never really got to understand what the adults - particularly Mariya and Georgie - were thinking and going through. It's hard not to compare it to The Kite Runner - while it's equally readable, it lacks the punch of that novel. It's humorous in parts and tragic in others. I'd describe it as perfectly okay, but not a standout for me.
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on 22 May 2009
I have read many books about Afghanistan and wasnt sure that this one would offer a new perspective to the tragic ones i have read so far .. I was wrong. This story manages to be a tragic, sad and despairing story full of hope, joy, laughter and the wonder of the human spirit. It is a short story, told from the persepctive of a poor, Fatherless Afghani boy who lives with his loving but strict Mother (alone now that his father and brother are dead and his sister was kidnapped). They find their lives change dramatically as their mother becomes house keeper to 3 westerners and they move in with them. One is 'Georgia' a beautiful and kind woman who is in love with a wealthy 'drugs barren', one is 'May' a lesbian who rarely has much to smile about and the other is 'James' a journalist who loves to drink and sleep. The lives of these and other characters (including a blind shopkeeper, a cheeky card seller and a love struck security guard) become intertwined in a sweet tale of love and friendship.
This is a heart warming tale and gives a unique viewpoint on Afghanistan and the people who call this place home.
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