The arrival of a rival Afghani food market at the same California shopping plaza as the Shinwari family’s already established store brings with it the threat of an awakened family feud.
Eleven-year-old Ariana Shinwari feels klutzy and inadequate next to her almost-12-year-old perfect cousin, Laila, who has moved in with Ariana’s family after fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan, leaving her father, a translator for the American Army, behind. And now it looks like Ariana’s best friend, Mariam, who also fled Afghanistan with her family, has all of her classes with Laila. But when strange things start to happen at both Kabul Corner and the upstart Pamir Market, schoolgirl conflicts give way to collaboration among Ariana, Laila, Mariam and Wali, the son of the new store’s owner. Senzai successfully weaves the dynamics of Afghan culture, history and political wranglings into a classically American mystery story, unraveling who and what are really at the heart of the conflict between the two Afghani grocery stores. Readers will appreciate that young people solve all of the questions at hand and ultimately bring the two families together.
An engaging mystery—that it’s about Afghani families struggling and surviving in America is a plus. (Fiction. 8-12)