Groundwood Books Ltd|September 1, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-55498-297-4
On a military base in post-Taliban Afghanistan, American authorities have just imprisoned a teenaged girl found in a bombed-out school. The army major thinks she may be a terrorist working with the Taliban. The girl does not respond to questions in any language and remains silent, even when she is threatened, harassed and mistreated over several days. The only clue to her identity is a tattered shoulder bag containing papers that refer to people’s names: Shauzia, Nooria, Leila, Asif, Hassan – and Parvana.
In this long-awaited sequel to The Breadwinner Trilogy, Parvana is now fifteen years old. As she waits for foreign military forces to determine her fate, she remembers the past four years of her life. Reunited with her mother and sisters, she has been living in a village where her mother has finally managed to open a school for girls. But even though the Taliban has been driven from the government, the country is still at war, and many continue to view the education and freedom of girls and women with suspicion and fear.
As her family settle into a routine of running the school, Parvana, a bit to her surprise, finds herself restless and bored. She even thinks of running away. But when local men threaten the school and her family, she must draw on every ounce of bravery and resilience she possesses to survive the disaster that kills her mother, destroys the school, and puts her own life in jeopardy.
A riveting page-turner, Deborah Ellis’s new novel is at once harrowing, inspiring and thought-provoking. And yes, in the end, Parvana is reunited with her childhood friend, Shauzia.
Parvana was picked up by U.S. authorities in a bombed out school in Afghanistan that been abandoned and was in ruins. They asked her name in English, Dari, and Pashtu but Parvana remained mute. She was dressed in a dusty blue chador and kept her eyes lowered. She was found with a bag that contained papers with the names Shauzia, Nooria, Leila, Asif, Hassan – and Parvana. Since she refused to talk or give her name, the authorities were convinced she was some sort of terrorist and threw her into a cell. Two uniformed women flanked by men with guns drawn came in the night for her, dragging her from her cell. Her feet and legs had fallen asleep and she was having trouble standing. “Stand up!” one of them ordered. Once in the office, they sat her down and demanded to know why she wouldn’t talk to them, once again they were met with silence. They told her that her notebook in her bag was full of Dari so assumed that was the language she spoke and told her that was the language the would communicate with her in. However, again Parvana remained mute.
Parvana continued her silence, not giving in to their taunts, torture, or mistreatment. She was a very strong girl, mentally. I guess when you’ve seen the horrors of war like Parvana has, it becomes easier and easier to keep your mouth shut about what you’ve seen and heard. Trusting people would be a huge issue, I’m sure.
This was a riveting, page-turner that I didn’t want to end. I felt bad that her mother died as she was the last connection to Parvana’s family. Deborah Ellis always writes the most honest stories about real issues that gives us a bird’s eye view of what some of these people go through. I’ll be recommending Parvana to my friends.