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Parvana by Deborah Ellis

Parvana (original 2000; edition 2002)

by Deborah Ellis

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1,284746,108 (3.98)16
Authors:Deborah Ellis
Info:Allen & Unwin (2002), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:War, Afghanistan

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The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis (2000)


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I really enjoyed this book. I liked the characters and the writing. The characters were all very different but you could always find someone to relate to. I liked the older sister Nooria best because I am used to being in that position so I found her very relatable. Parvana is the younger daughter who has to dress like a boy because their father is taken prisoner. Women aren’t allowed to go outside without a man so Parvana is their only hope for getting food and money. I like the author’s use of words to make you feel like you were actually in Paravana’s shoes. “Parvana watched helplessly as two soldiers dragged him down the steps, his beautiful shalwar kameez ripping on the rough cement. Then they turned a corner, and she could see them no more.” The author Deborah Ellis did an excellent job putting you in Parvana’s shoes by using great words like helplessly, dragging, ripping to give the reader a clear picture of what Parvana was seeing. Ellis also put in very specific events to let the reader feel just how desperate the family is. At one point Parvana is digging up bones for money, there is a woman they shelter who ran away because the Taliban killed her entire family. “I just left them there! I left my mother and my father and my brother lying in the street for the dogs to eat!” Including situations like this really grips the reader to feel how desperate families in the Middle East are under rule of the Taliban. The author left a cliff hanger at the end. I really hope there is a book two because it leaves off with Parvana and her father going off to find her mother, sister, and brother with no word on whether they are alive or not. I liked the fact that this was a window book. It gave me a whole new perspective on people in the Middle East. The big idea in this book is survival. Parvana and her family are struggling to survive in their hostile homeland. ( )
  torilynae | Oct 19, 2014 |
“The Breadwinner” follows the story of a young girl, Parvana, growing up in Afghanistan in the middle of a war. She is forced to leave school and spends most of her time inside because women need to be accompanied by men at all times in public. After her father is sent to jail, Parvana must dress and pretend to be a young boy so she can help support her remaining family of females. The main idea of this story focuses on the importance of family and the lengths that some families will go through to protect and provide for each other. This book also shows the unique perspective of a child growing up in the middle of war. One way that the author gets these messages across is through Parvana’s childish, innocent thoughts. The author often states what is going on through her head whether it’s fighting with her sister because she does fewer chores, refusing to chop off her hair, or being the only one in the family who works. She even often states her resentment for all of the responsibilities she has. However, the author always has Parvana come around to do the right thing to help her family. This perspective of Parvana’s inner thoughts greatly shows how a child in a war is still a child while at the same time showing how important family is. Another way the author shows the importance of family is through the sacrifices made by Parvana’s family. Parvana sacrificed her life by pretending to be a boy and working to support her family, Parvana’s mother sacrificed her life to try to free her husband, her father sacrificed his life to try and give his daughters and wife an education, and the whole family sacrificed many of their material goods to feed and shelter their family. These extreme sacrifices show the reader just how important it is to be there for your family and that some people will do anything to do so. I really enjoyed this book because of the unique perspective of a child’s view point during war. It was very interesting to see how she saw life in Afghanistan. I was able to connect to Parvana by feeling her overreact and be confused by many of the things going on in her life. For example, she was afraid to cut her hair even though it was such a small detail in the grand scheme of things. Also, she always talked about how hard it was to tell women apart in their burqa’s. The perspective of Parvana made this a very unique and interesting book to read. ( )
  CarolinePfrang | Apr 7, 2014 |
There are many types of battle in Afghanistan. Imagine living in a country where women and girls are not allowed to leave the house without a man. Imagine having to wear clothes that cover every part of your body, including your face, whenever you go out. This is the life of Parvana, a young girl growing up in Afghanistan under the control of an extreme religious military group.

When soldiers burst into her home and drag her father off to prison, Parvana is forced to take responsibility for her whole family, dressing as a boy to make a living in the market place of Kabul, risking her life in the dangerous and volatile city.

By turns exciting and touching, Parvana is a story of courage in the face of overwelming fear and repression.

Recommended for children 12 years and over. Some scenes of repression, killing, maiming. ( )
  Breony | Mar 5, 2014 |
Awesome. This book is just awesome!!! I love Parvana and her story and the story of all the women in Afghanistan ( )
  Elliepoole | Feb 4, 2014 |
I choose this story because I have always been inspired by the strength of young girls. As I mentioned in one of my other reading logs, I was never really interested in the princesses growing up and that I was much more enthralled with the strength Mulan had. In this story eleven year old Parvana had to grow up take on the dangerous role of being the breadwinner for the family when her father is taken by the Taliban. Parvana has to cut off all of her hair in order to resemble a boy, much like Mulan did when she went to war to save her father. In the Muslim culture women and girls are not aloud to leave the house without a male escort. Women are also not aloud to work so once Parvana's father gets taken she has to become the 'male' head of the family. The novel takes us through her brave journey of ups and downs trying to provide for her family. I feel like the main idea of this story is that you do anything for your family and you step up to care for you family when you need to. Parvana knew that something needed to be done to support her family and she stepped up to fill that spot. ( )
  Kbenis1 | Dec 8, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Deborah Ellisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brisac, Anne-LaureTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kjersén Edman, LenaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manzolelli, ClaudiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ridelberg, HelenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the children of war
First words
"I can read that letter as well as Father can," Parvana whispered into the folds of her chador.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
In Afghanistan, only men are allowed to work. The Breadwinner tells the courageous story of a young Afghan woman living in war-torn Kabul who must pretend to be a boy so that she can work to support her family. Pravana and her family live in one room of a bombed-out apartment building. Her father, a former history teacher who was injured when his school was bombed, works in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. Because of his foreign education, he is arrested by the Taliban, the radical religious faction that controls the country. Forbidden to go to school, work outside the home, or even leave the home without a male escort, Pravana disguises herself as a boy to become the breadwinner. This powerful book brings to light the reality of life under the Taliban, illustrating not only the lengths that one young girl goes through simply to put bread on the table but also the enormous capacity of children for acts of courage.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0888994168, Paperback)

Since 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 Ellis's engrossing children's novel The Breadwinner is trapped inside her family's one-room home. That is, until the Taliban hauls away her father and Parvana realizes that it's 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 Atwood's The Handmaid's 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 Parvana's. "'They've tried that,' Parvana said, 'It only made things worse.'" (Ages 9 to 12) --Lisa Alward

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:16 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Because the Taliban rulers of Kabul, Afghanistan, impose strict limitations on women's freedom and behavior, eleven-year-old Parvana must disguise herself as a boy so that her family can survive after her father's arrest.

(summary from another edition)

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