Parvana’s Journey, by Deborah Ellis

Rating: 4.5/5

Rating: 4.5/5

Awards: Jane Adams Award; The Canada Council Governor General’s Literary Award

In Parvana’s journey we meet a young girl in Afghanistan who has just lost her father and goes on a journey to find the rest of her family. She dresses as a boy to avoid persecution from the Taliban, but even that is not enough to guarantee her safety, as everyone around her is desperate and would not think twice about selling a young “boy” to gain enough money for food for their families. Trusting no one, she travels the dangerous desert and finds a starving toddler, a girl who believes the earth magically protects her from harm, and a severely brutalized boy with an amputated leg.

Parvana’s Journey is the sequel to The Breadwinner, where Parvana’s descent into poverty and despair begins. However, this book stands on its own and it’s a worthwhile read.

The author does a beautiful job of creating rounded characters that many children around the world can relate to. Parvana is kindhearted and full of dreams, but despair and hopelessness slowly eats away at her. The narrative hints that she would have lost her mind had she not found and rescued the other children but, even then, it is hard for her to hold on to her sanity.

Though reality is presented in all its harshness, (worm-infested sores and all), there is always at least an inch of hope that is passed from one character to another: hope of survival, hope of a warm meal and hope of finding Parvana’s family. This is one of those stories that tugs at your heart and will always stay there. I applaud this author’s efforts to foster awareness of what is happening to women and children in war-torn Afghanistan and showing through literature that we are all human.

I especially love the note in the back cover: For mature children.

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