Synopses & Reviews
"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.
"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." Mary Karr, New York Times bestselling author of The Liar's Club and Cherry
"Inspiring....A wonderful story." James McBride, New York Times bestselling author of The Color of Water and Miracle at St. Anna
"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." Peter Castro, executive editor of People magazine
"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." Mary Higgins Clark
In an unprecedented partnership, ABC's Good Morning America, Simon Spotlight Entertainment, and Simon & Schuster Audio have teamed up to find the great American memoir from essays submitted in the fall of 2004.
When ABC News's Good Morning America
asked its viewers to write essays describing true-life experiences about romance, adventure, loss, and overcoming tremendous odds, the network never imagined receiving more than twenty thousand pages of inspiring, heartbreaking, and hopeful stories. But that's exactly what happened. After a panel of bestselling authors and editors chose three finalists, America was given the opportunity to vote on which aspiring author would have his or her story published.
The Story of My Life is the result of the most ambitious and all-inclusive search ever conducted to discover and publish an extraordinary life story.
About the Author
Farah Ahmedi lives outside of Chicago and is a junior in high school. This is her first book.
Tamim Ansary is the author of West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story as well as numerous books for children. A columnist for Encarta, he lives in San Francisco with his wife and their two children.
Read the exclusive essays by Tamim Ansary: 2009