The journey from Hiroko Tanaka to an almost Hiroko Konrad and finally, Hiroko Ashraf was intensely poetic and linked to the many absurdities of life. Everything written in the book can be reflected in one simple phrase, "The speed necessary to replace loss." More than a search for identity, Burnt Shadows is a tale about learning the secret about loss. There is no overcoming, just a bitter fading of it and an ever pronounceable taste that can surface anytime.
For Raza Konrad Ashraf, the narration had a touch of belonging and for him, life was but a series of throwing caution to the wind. He found refuge in being Raza Hazara and that was when he felt as he belonged the most. He chose to be a deserter, not by willingness, but it was time that stretched him far away from the kind of life he always dreamed about. His character teaches a lot about being a child of beautiful parents. Moreover, his ability to converse in many languages makes him all too unforgettable.
For Sajjad Ashraf, his choices reflected the person that he aspired to be and never realized that it didn't really matter to people close to him. His Dilli and his feelings of always being underestimated weren't lost on me.
Kamila Shamsie has woven a world, an alternate universe really, that shows that a bomb not only spreads hatred, it destroys the aspirations that come attached with life. I found Burnt Shadows to be an amalgamation of characters connected through a dead link that was Konrad Weiss. From Jack to Elizabeth, Raza to Harry and finally Hiroko to Ilse and Kim. The loyalties tested at every step of the way and nativeness being the determining factor between friends. From Burtons to Ashrafs and back to the Burtons; time doesn't stop for anyone long enough to take them with it.