A powerful young adult read which includes the novels The Breadwinner, Parvana’s Journey and Mud City. The dedications for each of these novels are as follows: to the children of war; to children we force to be braver than they should have to be; to children lost and wandering, far from their homes. When The Breadwinner begins Parvana is eleven years old and in sixth grade, her sister Nooria is in high school, her sister Maryam is five and her brother Ali is two years old. They have been living in one room for more than a year. Parvana went to the market with her father (lost part of his leg when the school he taught at was bombed). She helped her father get to the market and she sat with him while he tried to sell the few items they could part with to try and raise money for food. Her father also read and wrote letters for Afghans who could not read or write. Parvani spoke Dari and understood Pashtu and some English. They are living in Kabul and the Taliban has taken over the country. “Bombs had been part of Parvana’s whole life. Every day, every night, rockets would fall out of the sky, and someone’s house would explode.” One day four Taliban soldiers burst through the door. They dragged her father outside although Parvana tried to hold on to him. The other soldiers searched their room and threw things about. When Parvana tried to stop them she was beaten. And this is only the beginning. When her mother and sister go to Mazar, Parvana is left alone. She finds a friend named Shauzia. She has to disguise herself as a boy because girls cannot be on the street and she must go to the market and try to make some money. In Parvana’s Journey her story continues and in Mud City we hear more of Shauzia’s story.
These are inspirational and informative stories about family and friendship in war ravaged countries that we hear of in the news daily. They have much to teach all readers about the lives behind the headlines. All three novels have won awards. The Breadwinner Trilogy is published by Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press in Toronto. Deborah Ellis can be researched at www.deborahellis.com. I intend to read more of her work in the immediate future.