Full of vivid detail and emotion, this compelling memoir captures the ache of a young child desperate for safety and...

Looking back on her perilous flight from Soviet-invaded Afghanistan in 1980, Ahmadi-Miller re-creates a child’s terror and loyalty to her family.

One of eight children in a wealthy family in Kabul, the author remembers her enchanted childhood before war as a time of “fun and camaraderie.” Her father, Padar, an engineer by training, worked at the American Embassy down the street from their house in the Karte Seh neighborhood and also as a landowner. His elegant wife, Miriam, was “a modern woman” who sewed beautiful clothes for the children, although she had a heart problem that would require her to leave for an operation in India. As one of the youngest, Ahmadi-Miller adored her older sisters, who had suitors and fine clothes. As the author records in this fluid text, she grew up in the 1970s, which was “one of the most prosperous periods in the history of Afghanistan,” when privileged children of both sexes were allowed to go to school and there were elements of Western mores and gender equality. However, in the countryside, there still existed devastating poverty and staunchly old-fashioned, conservative beliefs, as she would discover as they fled to Pakistan. With the violent arrival of the socialist, Soviet-backed coup, the family was no longer safe in Kabul. Padar, a proud, devoted Afghan, was being monitored by the Soviets and descended into alcoholism; Miriam fled with two of her children to India, leaving the others to fend for themselves. Even as a young child, the author came to the sinking realization that “Padar would never leave, and Mommy would never return to a country at war” despite Ahmadi-Miller’s ardent hopes that she would. The most harrowing section of the narrative concerns one of the family’s loyal bodyguards and his determination to whisk the remaining children into Pakistan without their father.

Full of vivid detail and emotion, this compelling memoir captures the ache of a young child desperate for safety and security.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5039-0378-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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