Deborah Ellis – The Breadwinner (The Breadwinner Trilogy book 1)


Well well, The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis is certainly not a book I typically read.  Had I not been doing this as a novel study for my students, I very likely would not be reading it.  As it is, it’s a recommended reading for grade 6s in Alberta.

Parvana is an eleven year old girl living in Kabul, Afghanistan.  While Parvana is just an infant, the Taliban have chased the Soviets out of Afghanistan, but the Taliban liked Afghanistan so much they decided they wanted to stay (paraphrased from The Breadwinner).  The Taliban hate women.  Parvana and her older sister Nooria were forced out of school since women aren’t allowed to go to school.  They aren’t even allowed to go out on the streets without being covered up from head to toe and have permission from their husbands.  They certainly aren’t allowed to work.

So when Parvana’s father, the only male in the family who isn’t an infant, is arrested for no apparent reason, it’s up to Parvana to dress up like a boy and try to find ways to make money for the family of 6 to survive.

To be honest I don’t actually know if The Breadwinner is based on a true story or not.  I’m sure there are very real elements in the book even if Parvana herself is a made up person.  I’m going to shelf this book under “realistic fiction”.

I said at the beginning that this isn’t a book I typically read.  Well, it’s not.  This book is probably more educational than it is entertaining.  I suppose if you want to learn about the situation with the Taliban and Afghanistan without having to read a textbook, this is a good book to read.  I don’t know.   I have mixed feelings about this book.  I’m not even sure I would read this as a novel study again.

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