Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner
by Deborah Ellis

Genre: Juvenile fiction

Synopsis:  Afghanistan, a country that lies south of Russia between Iran and Pakistan, has been fought over for centuries.  Today the country is in the hands of the Taliban, whose extreme religious views include forbidding women to appear in public without being covered from head to toe.  Women cannot go to school, work outside the home or leave their homes without a man to escort them.

A powerful and realistic novel about loyalty, survival, families and friendship, The Breadwinner brings the terrible situation home to North American young people with humanity and power.  Eleven year old Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital city.  Parvana's father-a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed-works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write.  One day he is arrested for the crime of having a foreign education, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food.

As conditions for the family grown desperate, only one solution emerges.  Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana most transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner.
from the book jacket

Review:  I am intrigued about different cultures and how people live in other countries.  This book was a good introduction to life in Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban.  For students and children with no background knowledge, this book would be a good place to start.  Parvana is a young girl who is allowed out of the home to help her father who is crippled.  When her father is arrested, Parvana turns into a boy so she can make money for her family.   Parvana's eyes are opened, as well as the reader's eyes, to the treatment of Taliban leaders and how dangerous it is for her to keep her identity a secret.  There is conflict between Parvana and members of her family but the family bond surpasses the difficulty.  One of my complaints with this book is the ending.  This book doesn't really end--there is no resolution.  There are 2 other books in this series and it seems like you have to read all three of them to really come to the end of the story.

Rating: 4 stars

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