The Breadwinner

by Chandra Sundeep
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis is a contemporary fictional novel based on real-life events. This is the first book of a trilogy. Parvana’s Journey and Mud City are the other two books in this series. Set in Afghanistan, it is the story of a spirited 11-year-old girl Parvana and her family who are struggling to survive under the Taliban regime. 

Parvana helps her father at the marketplace where they try to make a living by writing letters and selling their household items. But once the Taliban take away her father, Parvana has to earn a living to support her family. Since the Taliban mandates that women unaccompanied by males cannot step out, she disguises as a boy to earn a livelihood. 

Dressed in her brother’s clothes, she ventures into the streets and experiences a lot of freedom. And yet, at the same time burdened by responsibilities, the little girl in never really worry free. Over time, their family situation worsens and unexpected events occur that bring shock and tears. 

The Breadwinner is not just a sad book. It is equally warm and hopeful, tied together by tender moments of familial ties and friendship, Parvana’s story is inspiring and a true embodiment of human resilience. 

Narrated in a simple manner, with in-depth focus on reality, the book is filled with tense moments. The tone, vocabulary and character portrayal are apt for 10-12-year-olds, the targeted readers. Though older readers might find the length to be lacking, I think the younger readers would appreciate it better. There is a lot of emphasis on the ground situation and the associated socio-political crisis rocking Afghanistan.

The Breadwinner is an honest and heart-breaking book. It can be used to educate children about war and its disastrous effect on people, especially children. 

I had an amazing experience reading The Breadwinner and definitely recommend this one to all. 


Wordsopedia Rating 4.6/5

Title: The Breadwinner  Author: Deborah Ellis
Publisher: Groundwood Books Publication date: October 25th 2001
Genre: Fiction – Middle Grade Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780888994165 No. of Pages:171

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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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