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The Breadwinner Hardcover – Import, 1 March 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 952 ratings

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Product description

Amazon.com Review

Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, 11-year-old Parvana has rarely been outdoors. Barred from attending school, shopping at the market, or even playing in the streets of Kabul, the heroine of Deborah Ellis's engrossing children's novel The Breadwinner is trapped inside her family's one-room home. That is, until the Taliban hauls away her father and Parvana realizes that it's up to her to become the "breadwinner" and disguise herself as a boy to support her mother, two sisters, and baby brother. Set in the early years of the Taliban regime, this topical novel for middle readers explores the harsh realities of life for girls and women in modern-day Afghanistan. A political activist whose first book for children, Looking for X, dealt with poverty in Toronto, Ellis based The Breadwinner on the true-life stories of women in Afghan refugee camps.

In the wily Parvana, Ellis creates a character to whom North American children will have no difficulty relating. The daughter of university-educated parents, Parvana is thoroughly westernized in her outlook and responses. A pint-sized version of Offred from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Parvana conceals her critique of the repressive Muslim state behind the veil of her chador. Although the dialogue is occasionally stilted and the ending disappointingly sketchy, The Breadwinner is essential reading for any child curious about ordinary Afghans. Like so many books and movies on the subject, it is also eerily prophetic. "Maybe someone should drop a big bomb on the country and start again," says a friend of Parvana's. "'They've tried that,' Parvana said, 'It only made things worse.'" (Ages 9 to 12) --Lisa Alward

From Booklist

Gr. 5-7. Ever since the fundamentalist group Taliban secured power in the Afghan capital of Kabul, Parvana and her family have suffered. The group's relentless oppression makes it impossible for the women of the family to leave the house without their father. When Parvana's elderly father is arrested on the grounds that he is a scholar, the women are trapped in their cramped apartment. Eventually, running out of food and hope, Parvana dresses as a boy and becomes the family's breadwinner, doing whatever is necessary to keep the family alive--from reading letters for the illiterate to digging up and selling the bones of her ancestors. Unfortunately, the novel never deals with the religious facets of Afghan life, failing to explain that the Taliban sees itself, essentially, as a religious group. Nonetheless, The Breadwinner is a potent portrait of life in contemporary Afghanistan, showing that powerful heroines can survive even in the most oppressive and sexist social conditions. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product details

  • Publisher : Groundwood Books Ltd ,Canada (1 March 2001)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 170 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0888994192
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0888994196
  • Reading age : 10 years and up
  • Item Weight : 295 g
  • Dimensions : 13.34 x 2.54 x 19.69 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 952 ratings

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Nicole Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! An 11 year old girl's journey through terror, courage and hope against a backdrop of life under the Taliban
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 June 2016
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read in two evenings.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 January 2021
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4.0 out of 5 stars My ten year daughter enjoyed reading it with me but we were both a ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 31 July 2016
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H Critchley
5.0 out of 5 stars ‘This is the most true book ever, you need to read it because then you’ll understand.’
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 August 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing i truly recommend!!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 November 2020
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