Parvana's Journey

by Deborah Ellis Book 2 of the Breadwinner Trilogy

“All my girls are smart,” Parvana’s father used to tell her. “You... read more

“All my girls are smart,” Parvana’s father used to tell her. “You will grow into strong, brave women and you will rebuild our poor Afghanistan.” Now 13, Parvana has just buried her father. Separated from her mother and siblings in war-ravaged Afghanistan, where the Taliban still rules, she travels by foot across the country, holding out hope that she will find them again. When Parvana finds a baby in an abandoned, burned out village, she cannot leave him behind. She trades the burden of her father’s beloved books for the weight of the boy she names Hassan. Soon, Asif, a prickly, wounded boy who has lost a leg, has joined them, and then they meet Leila, a spirited, nine-year-old girl who wears her wounds in the way she moves through the world, touched by the belief she cannot be killed by land mines. This foursome takes refuge in the valley where Leila has been living with her aging grandmother. The Green Valley, Parvana calls it, using the name she had given to the place of ideal refuge she had created in her daydreams. But the Green Valley isn’t a dream, it’s part of the real world, where the war eventually finds them once again. Deborah Ellis’s sequel to her 2001 novel The Breadwinner (Groundwood) is an important and moving book that humanizes the headlines, distilling for young readers a conflict and recent history that can sometimes seem incomprehensible to a story about children they can know and understand, children like them. While the accomplishments of Parvana and her companions may seem occasionally unrealistic (could a starving 13-year-old girl really carry a heavy baby for so long and so far?), their situation is compelling and their interactions feel authentic (the relationship between Parvana and Asif is especially satisfying). And despite the tragedy of their situation, Ellis manages to tell their story without overwhelming young readers. (Ages 10-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2003

show less