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The Breadwinner
Cover of The Breadwinner
The Breadwinner
The Breadwinner Series, Book 1
Imagine living in a country in which 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...
Imagine living in a country in which 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...
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  • Imagine living in a country in which 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.
    In this powerful and realistic tale, eleven-year-old Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital city during the Taliban rule. Parvana's father- a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed- works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day he is arrested for the crime of having a foreign education, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food. As conditions in the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden by the Taliban government to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy and become the breadwinner.

About the Author-

  • Deborah Ellis's young adult novel The Breadwinner, first published in Canada and then in the U.S. in 2001, was inspired by her work in Afghan refugee camps. Her first novel for young readers, Looking for X, was nominated for the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award. Ms. Ellis currently works as a mental health residential counselor in Toronto.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Set in Afghanistan, this book paints a bleak picture of life under Taliban rule. Rita Wolf creates a lively, engaging young Parvana, through whose eyes we witness Taliban oppression. Parvana's mother and sister are trapped at home, forbidden to leave unless chaperoned and swathed in the ubiquitous burqa. (Ellis defines such terms.) Although Wolf's accent may seem simulated to an Afghan ear, most Western listeners are unlikely to mind. Based on real-life interviews with children, this timely story of courage in extreme circumstances is sobering and chilling (Parvana unearths human bones for money, witnesses an amputation, and suffers a beating) and is best-suited for older children--ideally those listening with an adult. J.C.G. Winner of 2004 ALA/ YALSA Recording (c) AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 1, 2001
    Ellis (Looking for X) bases her contemporary novel on refugee stories about the oppressive rule of Afghanistan by the Taliban. Eleven-year-old Parvana must masquerade as a boy to gain access to the outside world and support her dwindling family. Parvana's brother was killed years earlier by a land mine explosion and, for much of the story, her father is imprisoned, leaving only her mother, older sister and two very young siblings. The Taliban laws require women to sheathe themselves fully and ban girls from attending school or going out unescorted; thus, Parvana's disguise provides her a measure of freedom and the means to support her family by providing a reading service for illiterates. There are some sympathetic moments, as when Parvana sees the effect on her mother when she wears her dead brother's clothes and realizes, while reading a letter for a recently widowed Taliban soldier, that even the enemy can have feelings. However, the story's tensions sometimes seem forced (e.g., Parvana's own fear of stepping on land mines). In addition, the narrative voice often feels removed "After the Soviets left, the people who had been shooting at the Soviets decided they wanted to keep shooting at something, so they shot at each other" taking on a tone more akin to a disquisition than compelling fiction. However, the topical issues introduced, coupled with this strong heroine, will make this novel of interest to many conscientious teens. Ages 10-12. (Apr.) FYI: All royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to Women for Women in Afghanistan, dedicated to the education of Afghan girls in refugee camps in Pakistan.

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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