She turned around to plead with her mother. “Don’t make me do this!”

“You see?” Nooria said in her nastiest voice. “I told you she was too scared.”

“It’s easy to call someone else scared when you’re safe inside your home all the time!” Parvana shot back. She spun around and went outside slamming the door behind her.

Out on the street, she kept waiting for people to point to her and call her a fake. No one did. No one paid attention to her at all. The more she was ignored, the more confident she felt. (6.59-6.62) (Shmoop Editorial Team)

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis is the first book of a trilogy about an eleven year old heroine name Pravana who lives in Kabul, Afghanistan.  She lives in a crowded one room apartment with her mother, two sisters and a baby brother and father. Pravana life is not so simple. She lives under the early regimes of the Taliban- seeker of knowledge- army; she is rarely allowed to go outside unless she is accompanied with her father, she has to be cover, wearing burqas and a chador and is barred from going to school.  Pravana father used to be a history teacher however, now sits on a blanket in the market to read letters to those who cannot read or write in English to support the family and income. Then one day, Pravana father is arrested from the Taliban for being an Intellectual (for reading and writing in English). Pravana makes a drastic decision to disguise as a boy to have income to buy food and water for the family and continues to read letters for those who cannot. Pravana goes from living her life of rarely going outside, being barred from school to concealing herself to work on the streets to know what the Taliban are planning to release her father from prison. Pravana takes drastic measure steps that can not only be breaking the law but threatening her family and life as well.

The Breadwinner is the perfect book for not only children but for adults who are learning how to read. The book is a para-text that has a forward, a map, author note in the beginning and end, a glossary and synopsis of Deborah Ellis other novels.  The Breadwinner is special and powerful because it has been recommended by Malala Yousafzai, won many awards such as the Baia delle Favole literacy award, YALSA PPYA, and Golden Oaks and now has a 15 edition. The words of the story flow, the story is fast pace and easy to follow along without losing yourself through the trouble or wording and description. The Breadwinner can be read from a 12 year old to elder because how power the messages the Breadwinner shows in a 145 page novel. The Breadwinner is a realistic fiction that parts of the Breadwinner actually happen- the Taliban army taken over Afghanistan when the Soviets Union moved out, the treatment of women equality, however the characters in the story are fiction. The book sends a message about woman in empowerment, world issues, suffering, and courage, education, warfare, and gender equality. It is a book that will bring tears and empowerment to yourself and to those woman and children who have to drastic measure like Pravana to save their family or village because they won’t give up and want to survive for change and their freedom and rights.

On that note, I want to thank Deborah Elllis for writing The Breadwinner because I would never know from an early age of how cruel many places in the world are toward woman freedom and rights and equality. To learn, that no matter how old you are, you can be brave and courageous and do that is right to keep your family safe, even if it means to endanger yourself. Every time I pick up the Breadwinner, I get chills, thinking this is what still happens in parts of the world and I will never know what it feels to have someone down me for being a women, to conceal my looks, to not go to school to get an education or a job, to not be able to read and write since I live where I have the right to get an education, to have a voice, to be who I want to be and not be invisible to the world. I want all women and children to have an education, to not be afraid to go outside of their homes, to have a voice of their own point of view and to be anyone they want to be. Happy 15th edition, The Breadwinner!

Linked to Goodreads reviews

Linked to Shmoop for more book talk, summaries, study guides, themes and more.

Linked to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan / Parvana’s fund education Project for Afghan women and children

Linked to the Forest of reading, Golden Oaks page

Works Cited:

Shmoop Editorial Team. “The Breadwinner Courage Quotes.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.


About Librarian information and Tech at Durham

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  1. Luna says:

    I read thsis book and it was amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

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