Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (09/10)
“Aksandar” is a fictional account of what took place in Afghanistan, in 1979, during the Marxist Khalq Regime. This regime was financed by Moscow. As the people of Afghanistan bravely tried to fight the communist control, they put up resistance to the radical land and social reforms that were being forced upon them. This started a civil war.
In this story, thirty-six-year-old Aziz Rashani becomes part of a resistance to help Afghanistan reclaim her independence. This is a daunting task to undertake because there is a great deal of corruption within the political structure. Aziz is secretly united with his cousin Issa, and his friend Hanafi. Together they make strategic plans help lead an underground network of resisters to create a New Afghan Party. Their role in this resistance put them at great risk. Anybody opposing the Marxist regime, including religious leaders, is being killed. Whole villages, including the women and children within them, are being destroyed.
When a peaceful student rally in Shahzab turns into a vicious massacre, an American woman is murdered in front of Aziz. Aziz attempts to help her friend escape to safety, however, she runs off leaving her purse behind. Through her documents, he discovers that her name is Jenna Lantz and that she is an American. Concerned for her welfare, Aziz is able to track her down and return her belongings. Jenna is desperate to find out what happened to her friend, and the students that she came here to teach.
As Aziz furthers his involvement in the resistance, he continues to try to help Jenna stay safe and to locate two boys that are believed to be held captive. It is believed that her friend has died. Aziz and Jenna also develop a very intense relationship. While he is determined to help her, he also hears rumors that she is not who she portrays herself to be. As both of them struggle to survive the truth reveals itself. One thing is clear, Jenna is in danger. Enlisting the aid of Aziz’s friend and others that she hopes she can trust, Jenna travels through very dangerous territory in search of the two boys.
During this time, the fighting also continues to escalate. No longer is anybody safe within this country. Aziz also has a rude awakening when he discovers that not all of the people that he is involved with are trustworthy. He becomes desperate to save his family, Jenna, and his country.
“Aksandar” is a realistically written story that portrays the civil war that was happening in Afghanistan at this time as one would expect to envision it. The underlying fictional story about the resistance and the relationships of the people involved made it even more realistic and added a great deal of depth. Knowing that actual events have occurred that were very similar to what happened in the story, was incredibly sobering. It also made me very grateful to be living where I do. By writing this story, the author Judith Montgomery did a fantastic job of relaying the struggle that the people of Afghanistan have faced. The message that she relays to her readers about the people and their struggle is incredibly valuable. “Aksandar” is highly recommended.