(This review has also been posted to Goodreads–you can see my other reviews on Goodreads as well.)
One of the novels we use in our fundamental English class is Parvana’s Journey, by Canadian children’s author Deborah Ellis. It is the second book in Ellis’ Breadwinner trilogy. Parvana is a young Afghan girl trying to escape the Taliban and reunite with her family, and the trilogy follows her and her family’s journey.
It’s a good novel, well written and interesting. Ellis has created an engaging, sympathetic protagonist in Parvana: she is smart and brave, but not preternaturally adult. Certainly she has had to grow up a lot faster than other children her age who don’t live in a war-torn country, but she is still clearly a child. The events in the book are realistically depicted and quite grim, but the book isn’t entirely devoid of hope. The first time I used it in a class, I did regret having timed it to come directly after the book we read about the Holocaust (Hana’s Suitcase, by Karen Levine), because it made the semester a little…relentless. However, I think Parvana’s Journey is a great teaching text. We researched the history and geography of Afghanistan, pre-and-post Taliban, and the changes that had occurred after the US declared war on the country after the September 11 bombings. That semester the majority of my students were Aboriginal, and they were particularly interested in the parallels between the collectivist culture of pre-Taliban Afghan society and their own collectivist, family oriented culture. Recommended.
So, I was excited to read on the CBC website today that Angelina Jolie Pitt is going to bring The Breadwinner to the big screen in 2017. I’m curious if the story will just focus on the first book, or attempt to tell the entire story in the trilogy. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with it. I notice Jolie Pitt is going to donate all profits that she makes as executive director to support the education of Afghan girls. I think she’s particularly well suited to use her clout to get this movie made.
I’m looking forward to seeing The Breadwinner; it would be great to be able to take a class to this while reading Parvana’s Journey.