Places To GoBook LookThe Arts,

Calendar, GamesCrossword

Book Reviews Elsewhere  (fresh daily from the Web)

 Movie Reviews Elsewhere  (fresh daily from the Web)

'Parvana's Journey'    Send a link to a friend

[DEC. 3, 2003]  "Parvana's Journey," by Deborah Ellis, Groundwood Books, Douglas & McIntyre, 2002.

Review by Linda Harmon

"Parvana's Journey" is the sequel to "The Breadwinner." The Taliban still control Afghanistan, and Parvana's hometown of Kabul is in ruins. Her mother, sister and brother disappeared in the tumult when the Taliban took over Mazar-e-Sharif at the end of the first story. As the sequel opens, Parvana is burying her father. His health never recovered from the injuries he suffered when his school was bombed and his imprisonment by the Taliban for being educated in another country. The living conditions of the refugee camps only worsened his condition. Now 13-year-old Parvana is alone and has no idea where to find the rest of her family. Still disguised as a boy, she sets out to find them.

Early into her journey she comes across a recently bombed village and finds a baby who appears to be the only survivor. She takes him with her, and even though he is an extra burden, he is also a comfort to her. She and the baby, whom she has named Hassan, take shelter in a cave for the night. They soon find out that an angry one-legged boy named Asif inhabits the cave. He is filthy, starving and has the bad cough that Parvana recognizes from the camps. The three of them stay in the cave for a while, but the need for food forces them to start traveling again.

The next character to join their group is an 8-year-old girl named Leila, who lives on the edge of a minefield with her near-comatose grandmother. She scavenges the minefields for food and supplies after explosions. She believes that she is protected from the land mines by the earth. Each time she eats she puts a small amount of food back into the ground to appease the earth.


[to top of second column in this review]

The conditions Leila and her grandmother are living in are terrible, but they do have a house of sorts. Parvana and Asif decide to stay with them and help them. Leila has sores on her face and the sores have maggots in them. She says that she knows she should wash, but she forgets to do it. Eventually all of the children and the grandmother get healthier. Just as they begin to have a little peace, the unthinkable happens again, and their somewhat safe corner of the world is destroyed.

The four children are again on the move. They were able to salvage very little food from the wreckage. Near complete starvation, the children join a group of other starving refugees and end up in a camp. Hassan is near death. He is taken by a nurse and put in the hospital tent. The other three children are left to fend for themselves. Weeks go by and it is getting colder and food is scarce. Parvana hears a man begging someone to buy his baby so he can feed the rest of his family. She hears a loud, desperate cry and realizes that it is coming from her own mouth. When it seems that things cannot get worse, they do, but what happens next gives Parvana the hope to go on.

This book offers a horribly realistic picture of war and the effect it has on innocent people, especially children. Deborah Ellis traveled to Pakistan to interview Afghan women in refugee camps. She compiled these stories for her book of oral histories, "Women of the Afghan War." The children she met in the camps and the stories she heard were also the inspiration for "The Breadwinner" and "Parvana's Journey." All royalties from the sale of these books go to Women for Women, an organization that helps women in Afghanistan. This book is recommended for ages 10 and up.

[Linda Harmon,  Lincoln Public Library District]

Previous book reviews

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor