Summary and book reviews of The Other Side of the Sky by Farah Ahmedi

The Other Side of the Sky

A Memoir

By Farah Ahmedi, Tamim Ansary

The Other Side of the Sky
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2005,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2006,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

"I was late to school, and that's all I could think about. I started across the field. And then suddenly a fire flashed in my face and the earth seemed to move beneath my feet. I remember a shower of soil and then nothing. I woke up on the ground, surrounded by a crowd, men and boys...no women. They were all staring down at me with huge eyes. Their lips were moving, but I could hear no voices. All I heard was a loud ringing in my ears."

Farah Ahmedi is born into the world just as the war between the mujahideen and the Soviets reaches its peak in Afghanistan. Bombs are falling all over her country, and her native Kabul is swelling with hundreds of thousands of people looking for homes and jobs. The sounds of gunfire and fighter planes are as normal to Farah as the sounds of traffic or children playing are to a schoolgirl in America. When Farah steps on a land mine on her way to school, her world becomes much smaller than the dreams and hopes in her heart. She begins to learn--slowly--that ordinary people, often strangers, have immense power to save lives and restore hope.

The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky recounts an epic journey. It deftly interweaves a childhood in Afghanistan, where the classrooms are naked chambers with only chalkboards on the walls and are filled with more students than seats (and no books), with an American adolescence, where teenagers struggle to decide whether to try out for school plays, whom to take to the homecoming dance, and where to go to college. In Kabul, they cancel school because of rockets and bombings; in Chicago, Farah might have a snow day. In Kabul, a schoolgirl wears a black dress and a white headscarf; in America, girls need the right jeans and trendy tops.

Thanks to a number of good people who crossed her path at critical moments, Farah is thriving. She may be haunted by her past, but she is no longer enslaved by it. She is actively enjoying the realization of her childhood dreams; she's an Afghan American, free to learn, work, support herself, and choose her own path. She'll graduate from high school soon and is being recruited by some of the best colleges in the world.

Farah is living proof that not only can the human heart endure, it can also thrive. Even in war, there are miracles. Even when limbs are amputated, we are whole. Even in refugee camps, dreams come true. Even when fathers and siblings die young, there is love. The Story of My Life is our new great American memoir.

Published in hardcover as The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky.

Prologue

Alyce wanted me to share the story of my life. I told her that I wasn't ready, that it was too soon. I'm not even nineteen years old, and I haven't achieved anything yet. But Alyce said that with a life like mine, surviving itself is an achievement--just surviving.

I don't know if she's right. When I look back at my childhood in Afghanistan, it seems so far away and long ago. Back then I thought I would grow up and grow old in the city of Kabul, surrounded by my big, complicated, loving family. Little did I know I would lose most of them before I turned fourteen.

As a child, gazing at the high walls around our home compound, I longed to see what lay on the other side of my city. I never dreamed that I would see our home reduced to rubble and would end up living on the other side of the world, in the suburbs of a city called Chicago.

But in the end, I have decided to tell this story because it is not mine alone. It is the story ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Author Blurb -James McBride, author of The Color of Water and Miracle at St. Anna
Inspiring....A wonderful story.

Author Blurb Peter Castro, executive editor of People magazine
A great twenty-first century American immigrant story. The Story of My Life is the modern American dream, and it's rich with details of the Taliban and Afghanistan

Author Blurb Mary Karr, author of The Liar's Club and Cherry
Very compelling....Here you have a girl, a child, who suffered her own disability, [and] the loss of her family and her homeland. She's taking care of her aging mother and adapting to this new culture, and she's a bright, shining light in the world....Very moving.

Author Blurb Mary Higgins Clark, author of thirty-two worldwide bestsellers
The Story of My Life has that wonderful quality of survival and is most compelling. Seeing Afghanistan from the eyes of this girl provides a deep, rich look that we haven't seen before.

Reader Reviews
GMA

Wonderful
I thought this book was wonderful. I had to read it for school and normaly I hate memoirs (and books people choose out for me) but i have to say the journey farah went through is amazing, I don't think I could ever go through what she did.

oprah

Good at some parts bad at others, but mostly wrong
The other side of the sky portrays a wrong image and bases false information regarding the Muslim way of life and its practice. With all respect, Farah is oblivious of the politics in her country and bases her opinions on her own experience as a ...   Read More

idette

inspiring
This book was inspiring because it inspired many people to move on to reaching their biggest goal from something very important they lost.This is also amazing because of all what she went through throughout her life to reach her goal.I would ...   Read More

Louise J.

An Inspirational Memoir for Everyone!
Farah was seven-years-old and had overslept one morning. Worried that she was late for school she decided to take a short cut through a field, saving her two or three minutes but little did Farah know that decision would turn out to be the worst of ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

When asked whether the experience of winning the contest has made her want to be a writer Farah replied, "I'll be happy to write books. I would also be happy to be in medicine, working with prosthetics. But I have to find out how smart I am. I also like technology, working with computers. My career could go in different directions."

When asked how it feels to be in America she says, "It feels great to be in America .... I'm safe here, no war. I like the love I have here, and the system. I like ...

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