Thunder Over Kandahar Share this with a friend

by Sharon E. McKay
photographed by Rafal Gerszak

Amelia Bloomer Project List, ALA USBBY Outstanding International Books Honor List Notable Books for a Global Society Next Generation Indie Book Award Eric Hoffer Award, Honorable Mention Skipping Stones Honor Book Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre TAYSHAS Reading List Cybils, Blogger Literary Award nomination Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Award nomination Red Maple Award nomination, Ontario Library Association

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.


“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

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

“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

“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

“Informative and inspiring . . . well-constructed and believable . . . this novel should become essential classroom reading for students in Grades 7 and 8.”
—Canadian Children’s Book News, Fall/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

“A powerful read . . . McKay is able to bring this far-away, well-researched story right into your bedroom (or wherever you like to read).”
—What If? Canada’s Creative Teen Magazine, Winter/10

“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

“This is a novel of courage, love, sacrifice, and, most importantly, hope for a brighter future . . . Sharon E. McKay has written a wonderful novel of great importance.”
—Edwards Magazine Book Club, 02/01/11

“Nothing short of a dramatic page-turner, guaranteed to stop your breath and keep you reading more.”
—, 02/28/11

“This is a fabulous novel, filled with action, adventure, and the warmth of friendship.”
—, 03/21/11

“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 Magazine, 05/11

“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

“A riveting and suspenseful story . . . This book is an essential read for students in Grade 7 and up.”
—Professionally Speaking, 06/11

“McKay has opened a window and allowed us to see the many faces and realities of this absorbing society in a way that touches the mind and heart.”
—St. Albert Gazette, 01/04/12

“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

“[A] suspenseful novel of courage and sacrifice in a very real, contemporary setting.”
—School Library Journal, 05/12

“All the characters are realistic and well drawn . . . an excellent, suspenseful novel.”
—Libris Notes, 06/06/12

“Portrays the true essence of the lives of Afghani women and children.”
—Republica, 11/12/12

“Thrusts you into a different perspective smoothly, while still being a great story.”
—Amy’s Marathon of Books, 02/18/14


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Slovenian, Audio World English, English: Indian Subcontinent, Eastern Africa

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Sharon E. McKay