"Born Under a Million Shadows" mixes humor, romance, and hope with the horrors of living in war-torn Afghanistan. The narrator, Fawad, is a boy on the edge of becoming a teenager, and his life has been anything but easy. His family has been torn apart and he lives with his mother in Kabul supported by the charity of resentful relatives. Through it all, Fawad remains cheerful, adventurous, friendly, and fiercely protective of his mother. Then his mother finds a position as a live-in housekeeper for a group of foreigners, and Fawad is catapulted into a different world.
The character of Fawad is based on children the author, Andrea Busfield, met during her time as a journalist in Afghanistan. Ms. Busfield's experiences over the past decade gave her access to a side of Afghanistan that is largely invisible to those of us in the Western world. The author wanted to share her love for the everyday Afghanistan and the friends she has made in her first novel, and while "Born Under a Million Shadows" does open a window into an Afghanistan beyond bombs, kidnappings, and war, it does not shy away either. The result is an engaging mix of controversy, danger, friendship, mystery, and most of all, love.
You can read more about Andrea Busfield's time in Afghanistan in this article she wrote in 2009, this author interview from 2010, or this 2009 Vogue interview.