The Breadwinner (The Breadwinner, #1) by Deborah EllisSince the Taliban took over Afghanistan, 11-year-old Parvana has rarely been outdoors. Barred from attending school, shopping at the market, or even playing in the streets of Kabul, the heroine of Deborah Elliss engrossing childrens novel The Breadwinner is trapped inside her familys one-room home. That is, until the Taliban hauls away her father and Parvana realizes that its up to her to become the breadwinner and disguise herself as a boy to support her mother, two sisters, and baby brother. Set in the early years of the Taliban regime, this topical novel for middle readers explores the harsh realities of life for girls and women in modern-day Afghanistan. A political activist whose first book for children, Looking for X, dealt with poverty in Toronto, Ellis based The Breadwinner on the true-life stories of women in Afghan refugee camps.
In the wily Parvana, Ellis creates a character to whom North American children will have no difficulty relating. The daughter of university-educated parents, Parvana is thoroughly westernized in her outlook and responses. A pint-sized version of Offred from Margaret Atwoods The Handmaids Tale, Parvana conceals her critique of the repressive Muslim state behind the veil of her chador. Although the dialogue is occasionally stilted and the ending disappointingly sketchy, The Breadwinner is essential reading for any child curious about ordinary Afghans. Like so many books and movies on the subject, it is also eerily prophetic. Maybe someone should drop a big bomb on the country and start again, says a friend of Parvanas. Theyve tried that, Parvana said, It only made things worse. (Ages 9 to 12) --Lisa Alward
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Alienated from her comfortable suburban California surroundings by family breakdown — her father has left home following an affair, and her mother has slipped into alcoholism — she turns to Islam for consolation. Her choice appears to be guided in equal measure by a genuinely spiritual urge for submission to the transcendent, and a more prosaic youthful defiance. Still in the Bay Area, she dons Afghan-style shalwar kameez, and crops her hair rather than wear a hijab. Next she plans to migrate to a godly country. Because Decker, her blustering boyfriend and travelling companion, has Afghan roots and cousins in Karachi, they head for Pakistan. Aden has too much attitude to accept any sort of limitation and so reinvents herself, improbably but credibly, as a boy.
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In the wily Parvana, Ellis creates a character to whom North American children will have no difficulty relating. The daughter of university-educated parents, Parvana is thoroughly westernized in her outlook and responses.
Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samiel Morse Wikimedia Commons. Modern Afghan authors have opened up their country to the world like never before, but Afghanistan has always had a treasure-trove of rich culture and heritage; it was said in ancient Pashtun texts that if you stretched your leg in Kabul you were in danger of kicking a poet. Inspired by years of war and upheaval, Afghanistan is once again attracting literary portrayals, whilst political and social commentaries attempt to elucidate the enduring conflict which has blighted Afghan history. It was a bestseller in America in , and launched the author onto the global scene. Readers across the globe devoured the unique, fluid prose, which detailed the painful and strenuous circumstances of its protagonist Amir and his journey as he grew up. The book reflects the capricious political climate of Afghanistan, from the early monarchy to the terrible Taliban regime, via the Soviet attack of
In a article in The New York Times, Amy Waldman, who was then reporting for the paper from Afghanistan, described the crowds of men who gathered around her there whenever she exposed her face. Quickly, she discovers that the clinic is a waste of resources. See the full list. Yet the book itself continues to have consequences. The book is more teeming panoply than intimate portrait. Waldman is less skilled — perhaps because less interested — at creating three-dimensional characters.