Kirkus Reviews QR Code
AFGHAN DREAMS by Tony O’Brien Kirkus Star


Young Voices of Afghanistan

by Tony O’Brien and Mike Sullivan

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59990-287-6
Publisher: Walker

A photojournalist and a filmmaker visit “a country at war with itself and a country that has been a pawn in the wars of imperial interests for centuries” and return with compelling portraits of 35 of its boys and girls. Ranging from eight to 18, the Afghani children are photographed in a soft light, exhibiting expressions from pensive to joyful and usually posed face-on so they gaze directly up at viewers. Most look older than their years; some display scars or other (healed) injuries; all have been touched in by violence. Their accompanying remarks, in the form of answers to questions about schooling, families and wishes for the future, are revealing, though couched in language that echoes the formality of the portraits: “I have been working as a thief for twenty days, stealing from people’s pockets. I’ve done it ten times, it’s true, ten times in twenty days. I want my real father to come back, I want my sisters and brothers, and I want a house,” says 10-year-old Wahaab. The goofy grin of 13-year-old Najmudin in the final photo lightens the solemnity but strengthens the overall message that these resilient young folk haven’t lost their hope of better things to come. (Informational picture book. 8-10)