akibird

A Blog of Children's Literature

The Breadwinner April 13, 2011

The BreadwinnerThe Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis (2001)

Adventure, 170 pages

In this heart-wrenching story, Deborah Ellis creates the life of Parvana, a Afghan girl whose father has been arrested and whose family now depends on her to provide for them because of the strict laws forbidding women to leave home without a chaperone. Parvana’s own more restricted life as a young girl soon changes as she cuts her hair and dons a deceased brother’s clothes to become a boy street merchant to make a living for her family. Ellis’ writing style shares the truth and hardship inflicted by the Taliban and a brave young girl who works around their laws to survive. Parvana’s life is full of sacrifice as she gives up her childhood to become the breadwinner for her family. At only age 11, her life has been full of bombs, beatings, and war, and yet she fights to be brave like Malali, a historical young girl who tore off her veil and spirited Afghanistan’s troops into a battle against the British who invaded the country. Ellis does a fine job writing material that is accessible to younger readers, yet does not paint a perfect picture of an Afghan woman’s world or its culture. She dances a fine line through Parvana’s experiences, celebrating family and instances of women’s rights, while shining light on the harsh reality of many. Similar to Persepolis and The Shadows of Ghadames, The Breadwinner questions the roles of young women in a changing world, providing a protagonist that attempts to overcome a cruel social system and does not live a fairytale existence.

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