cover image Enduring Freedom

Enduring Freedom

Jawad Arash and Trent Reedy. Algonquin, $18.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-64375-040-8

This intensely personal wartime novel about the aftermath of 9/11 and Operation Enduring Freedom unfolds from two third-person perspectives. The narrative begins in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept. 10, 2001, as Afghan 16-year-old Baheer, whose large family values education, sells rugs, hides their radio from the Taliban, and learns that the Taliban have killed Ahmad Shah Massoud, “the last mujahedeen commander holding out against the Taliban.” The next day, the family tries to make sense of the burning towers from a smuggled VHS tape of CNN, eventually moving to the countryside to avoid the coming conflict. In Iowa on 9/11, patriotic white high school senior Joe Killian, who enlisted in the National Guard for tuition, is shattered by the violence, filled with vengeance toward al-Qaeda. Two years later, he’s summoned from the University of Iowa to Afghanistan. Initially, Joe resents his unit’s peace mission to Baheer’s town, and he and Baheer experience cultural stumbles and clashes, but soon a friendship grows. While narrative tension lags in parts, this thoughtful portrait of friendship and the human side of war, based on the authors’ true story, proves engrossing. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (May) [/em]