Christine E. (Royal Oak, MI)
Families and Tragic Times
Kamila Shamsie did a good job in tying together three tragic events in world history in the latter part of the 20th Century. These events were tied together by their impact on three generations of two multi-ethic families. I enjoyed the book for the most part but got a little bogged down with the jumping around from different time periods and places and also by the different ethic groups in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Jan B. (Tetonia, ID)
A family saga spanning from Nagasaki to post 911
This book starts with a man stripped naked in a cell, wondering "how did it come to this?" Then the story starts, on the day the bomb is dropped in Nagasaki, with the story of how a German man, Konrad, and a Japanese woman, Hiroko, meet and become engaged. Their story then ripples outward into the future, to India, Pakistan, and ends in the post 911 America. The ever deepening connections and relationships between the two families, and the stories that are joined together, create an amazing intricate story of cultural differences both understood and misunderstood, the love that transcends the differences and even celebrates them, and the surprising ending that makes one wonder how do we pass on the knowledge of what we have come to understand.
This is a beautifully written book that gives great depth to the intricacies of relationships through time, place and the circumstances of history. It is a book that begs me to pick it up and reread it again.
Trezeline B. (Columbia, MD)
Kamila Shamsie covers three generations of two families in 365 pages. The language she uses is beautiful. At times I could imagine I was in the scene she was describing. Although at times the story gets a bit tedious, over all the continuing relationships between the characters is interesting and you really get insight into the many effects of war. We, as Americans are sometimes so unconcerned about what happens in foreign countries. We don't see the changes in ourselves caused by war and certainly don't realize the effects on people of other countries. This was a good read.
Dorothy M. (Maynard, MA)
Burnt Shadows - a book you shouldn't miss
Kamila Shamsie has written an incredible book in Burnt Shadows. Beginning just before the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and leaving you (I didn't feel that it ended because this is a book that stays with you) in the aftermath of 9-11, she explores the world through the relationships of two intertwined families. The book looks at what brings us together and what separates us in nationality, family relationships, and religion and it explores how languages effect the way we think and understand each other. But primarily this is a great read, beautifully written with wonderfully developed complex characters and a marvelous understanding of the randomness of life and the unintended consequences of our actions. It is a book you won't want to put down once you begin it and it would be a fabulous book discussion choice.