YOUth Review: The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

Book Cover: The Breadwinner - Deborah EllisDo you know what a “breadwinner” is? A breadwinner is a person who earns money to support the family.  This book takes place in Pakistan, where men dominate women, and men are always the breadwinner.

This book is based on 11-year-old Parvana, who is struggling to live life in Afghanistan, under Taliban rule.  The culture of that society is that the father is the breadwinner, and men dominate all other things.  In that society, women mean nothing, and girls even less.  When Parvana’s father gets ill, who is going to earn money to put food scraps on the family’s table?  If Parvana’s mother is seen alone in public, she will get beaten, thrown in jail, or even, killed.  And if Parvana goes alone she will most likely get stolen as a slave, captured, beaten, or worse.  So, Parvana dresses up as a boy and goes out to do her father’s work.

Throughout this book, there are so many places where I went “wow am I lucky”.  This book is a real eye-opener and is at parts a little hard to read, but the overall message was phenomenal.  I recommend this book for teenagers, and for people who want to see the world through a new perspective.  What I liked most about this book was how the author took this sad harsh topic but spun it into a fictional character, so that the reader can see what some people have to live through every day.  I also really like how there is a small dictionary at the back of the book that translates different Punjabi (the language they speak) words and their meanings so that the reader can follow along and understand!  Overall, this was a really great book, and once you read this, check out some other books by Deborah Ellis, like Mud City, Moon At Nine, and No Ordinary Day.

— Rachel L

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