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 settles into the 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.
It’s been thirty-four years since the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. It’s been twenty-three years since their departure marked the start of the bloody civil war. It’s been sixteen years since the capture of Kabul by the Taliban, and eleven years since that terrible day in September that unleashed events leading to the Taliban’s removal from power.
That’s an awful lot of war for a country the size of a large American state.
Since my involvement with Afghanistan, which began when news of the crimes of the Taliban hit the Toronto newspapers back in 1996, I have been trying to understand what war does to people. What the decisions made by people living in safety do to the daily lives of people whose opinions about the matter are not heard.
I’ve seen the way bombs and bullets shatter human bodies and devastate families. I’ve learned what happens when the destruction of infrastructure leads to bad water, food shortages and the lack of medical care. And I’ve heard from refugees about how their lives have been derailed and reduced to Waiting — for food, for shelter, for documents, for peace.
Through all the tales of crime and chaos, there has been one consistent champion — the educators. Teachers, whether professionally trained or picking it up as they go along, who carve out little niches of safety and childhood for the kids in need. Librarians who remind us that human beings are capable of creating things noble and sublime (is there anything more beautiful than a line of books on a shelf?). And others who, through music, art, sport or community building, lift us all up.
In today’s warfare, ninety-five percent of the casualties are civilians. This means that when we give our governments permission to go to war, we are giving them permission to kill people who are just like us — who complain about the weather, love their children and wonder what to have for dinner. People who have done us no harm.
Books can help us remember what we have in common as humans.
And that’s what I try to do with mine.