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Book Reviews (Children's)

Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis

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Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis
Published by Oxford University Press, 2002

Reviewed by Kilmihil Library’s Children’s Book Club

This story is part two of the Breadwinner Trilogy of books about life in Afghanistan, during the Taliban rule.

Parvana is a twelve year old girl, who is travelling across the country to try to find her family. She had started the journey with her father, but this book begins at her father’s funeral.
Her father, who had been a teacher, always said ‘if we stop, we die’. Parvana knew she had to keep going on her journey, even though she was all alone.
She is desperate to find her mother and family. On her travels she finds other children who are alone and need help too.
She meets Hassan, the small baby whose mother has been killed in a bomb attack on their village. She finds food for them and brings him along on her journey. She then meets Asif, a boy with one leg, who seems to enjoy annoying her, but who is afraid on his own and is really good to Hassan.
They also meet Leila, an eight year old girl. Her father and brother went to war and her mother left one day to find them and never returned. She lives with her grandmother near a minefield. The grandmother has given up on life and just lies and sleeps all day. Leila feeds them by salvaging the remains of the animals that get blown up in the minefield.
Leila’s grandmother is killed in a bombing and she also joins the other children on their journey.
They eventually make it to a refugee camp and finally Parvana is reunited with her family, after suffering the loss of one of her dear friends.

The children in Kilmihil book club enjoyed the story, even though they found it very sad. They liked that it was based on true life and found it an easy book to read. The short chapters and descriptive language were a help when reading it.
The book made the children think of children whose lives are not happy, as a result of war etc., and made them appreciate all they themselves have.
They were amazed at the children’s bravery to continue on their journey alone.
Favourite characters: Parvana and Leila

Rating 10 out of 10