Parvana’s Journey

by Chandra Sundeep
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Cover Image of Parvana's Journey by Deborah Ellis

A sequel to The Breadwinner Trilogy, Parvana’s Journey is a harrowing narration of grit, determination and the desire to live despite all odds. Set in war-torn Afghanistan, this middle-grade story is dark and as close to reality as it can get. Deborah Ellis has adopted a simplistic and utilitarian style of writing, and I feel it is best suited to the targeted audience.

Twelve-year-old Parvana sets on a journey to find her mother and siblings. Even though she starts the journey along with her father, she loses him at a camp. Left with no other choice but to proceed ahead, the little girl continues her journey. Along the way she meets a few other children – an orphaned infant, a disabled boy and a girl who is not scared of landmines. The group of children encounter many difficult situations – lack of food and water, diseases, bombs, death, and the ever looming threat of Taliban capturing them. Yet,the resilient group tries their best to survive.

Ellis does not shy away from describing abandonment, death and despair. Her portrayal of the ground situation is honest and detailed and bound to move the reader. Even the length of the novel is well suited for the intended audience. Parvana’s Journey is a good resource for children to understand the damage caused by war, the life of refugees, and especially how children are uprooted and affected by war. 

Parvana has a single goal in life i.e. to find her mother. And her actions, thought process, and behaviour are completely aligned with her goal. EAt times, ‌she appears to be cold, selfish and mechanical but I feel her characterization is completely justified considering her life situation. Even the minor characters mirror the ethos of the setting and situation. Their endurance and resilience is praise-worthy. 

Though Parvana’s letters to her friend Shauzia seem repetitive, they are endearing and hopeful. 

Ellis’s realistic portrayal of little Parvana’s journey is heart-breaking and unforgettable. She has perfectly captured the sufferings, the trauma and the optimism. It’s a beautiful tale that teaches us to keep moving ahead despite all challenges, and to be compassionate and courageous in the face of hardships. 

I loved reading The Breadwinner and Parvana’s Journey and would read Mud City too.

Wordsopedia Rating 4.6/5

Title: Parvana’s Journey Author: Deborah Ellis
Publisher: Groundwood Books  Publication date: October 1st 2002 
Genre: Fiction – Middle Grade Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780888995193 No. of Pages: 199

Buy your copy here on Amazon

About the author

Deborah Ellis is an award-winning author, a feminist and a peace activist. Deborah penned the international bestseller The Breadwinner, as well as many challenging and beautiful works of fiction and non-fiction about children all over the world. Her most recent book is Sit, which tells the stories of nine children and the situations they find themselves in, often through no fault of their own. In each story, a child decides and takes action, be that a tiny gesture or a life-altering choice.

Get in touch with the author on her website

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