The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

The Breadwinner

post written by Emma Filbrun

The Breadwinner by Deborah EllisTitle: The Breadwinner
Author: Deborah Ellis
Series: The Breadwinner Trilogy
Major Themes: Afghanistan, Islam, Taliban, War
Synopsis: After her father’s arrest by the Taliban, how can Parvana help her family to survive?

I rarely read books about wars. The Breadwinner, however, is used in the level of Sonlight that we just finished. We didn’t read all the books in this level, but one of my sons did choose this one, so we read it. It was a very interesting, gripping story, but at the same time, it was awful.

Parvana spent her days helping her father in the marketplace in Kabul, Afghanistan as he read and wrote things for people who were illiterate—until the Taliban arrested him. Then how would the family survive? With no income, and only women and girls in the family, what would they do? Women were not allowed to be on the streets without a male escort, and anyway they were required to wear a burqa any time they were outside. Would the family starve when their money ran out?

Eventually the decision is made that the only way for the family to live is for Parvana to dress as a boy and go out into the city to make a living. Will she be able to find enough jobs to feed the family? Or will the Taliban find her, too? This is an amazing story of survival in a war zone. There are some scenes that are pretty awful, and others that are heart-warming. I would not recommend it for young children; with a little censoring, I read it to my young teen and preteen.

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