Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Other Side of the Sky

Farah Ahmedi's memoir was the hottest book among the Pre-AP classes during our nonfiction unit. We have two copies and the girls were flying through it, so I knew I needed to read it so I could discuss it with them and my future students. The most impressive part of The Other Side of the Sky, for me, is that Farah is still a teenager and she was able to describe her difficult childhood so clearly and maturely. Having lost her leg to a land mine and most of her family to the Taliban, Farah has many reasons to grieve, yet she is optimistic and hopeful.

My main takeaway, though, was to be upset with her useless mother. Yes, she was probably suffering from PTSD, but she did absolutely nothing to help her daughter, so Farah was thrust into the role of caretaker at the age of ten. Many scenes have the same occurrence: "My mother sank down onto her bundle and started wailing in despair. I put my arms around her and tried to comfort her, but when I felt that frail body of hers shaking and trembling in my bony embrace, my own heart dissolved and I started to cry too." While I felt sorry for the struggles that Farah faced after losing a limb, I felt worse for her because she did not have a competent adult to care for her.

The mother aside, this is a good way for students to learn about Afghanistan, and on a broader note, to be kind and welcoming to new students in their school, who may be too shy to reach out.

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