Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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*****= An all-time favorite
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****The Breadwinner

by Deborah Ellis

Reviewed October 10, 2001.
A Sonderbooks' Best Book of 2001
Douglas & McIntyre.  2001.  (First published in Canada in 2000.)  170 pages.  Available at Sembach Library.

This book is set in Afghanistan, under the regime of the Taliban.  It makes me feel better about America working to topple that regime.  After her father is arrested, apparently for having been educated in England, an eleven-year-old girl must dress as a boy in order to provide food for her family to eat.  Her mother, who had been a history teacher, must stay indoors, now that her husband is unable to escort her outside.

This is a story of terrible times, yet is presented in a matter-of-fact way that I think even children would be able to handle.  I thought it somewhat ironic that it talked about the history that the girl’s mother taught--4000 years of conquerors--Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, British and Soviets--all kicked out again by the Afghans.  The Taliban regime was at least headed up by Afghans.  So I was glad to hear that America is not talking about conquering Afghanistan.  I hope that our leaders’ intentions will get through the propaganda and reach the Afghan people.

But that part isn’t in the book.  Though one couldn’t help but wonder how the family in the story would be affected by yet one more round of war.  (They had once been wealthy, but successive houses had been bombed, the father had lost a leg, and they were down to a one-room home at the start of the story.)  Though the ending isn’t exactly happy, it does offer hope that the family will be reunited and will work to tell the world about the plight of Afghan women under the Taliban.

I recommend this book highly as a way to put yourself inside the eyes of a child of Afghanistan.

Sequel to The Breadwinner:  Parvana's Journey

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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