My Name Is Parvana

October 2012. 204p. 978-1-55498-297-4.
Gr 6-10–This sequel to the series is not merely an important book about the difficulty of girls’ lives in war-torn, U.S.-occupied Afghanistan. It is also an example of vivid storytelling with a visceral sense of place, loss, distrust, and hope. Strong-willed Parvana, now 15, is inexplicably and stoically silent throughout her incarceration and none-too-gentle interrogation by U.S. troops. Alternate chapters take readers back through the past year during which Parvana and her family (and other beloved characters from previous books) defend their girls’ school in a town hostile to the notion of female education. Although Ellis relies heavily upon readers’ attachment to certain characters formed in earlier books, newcomers still get a strong sense of personality from Parvana’s friends and family members. The Americans and minor Afghani figures are tossed about as caricatures, e.g., the overly suspicious commanding officer, the ignorant racist private, the volatile village men who throw rocks at girls whose head coverings have slipped. Why Parvana remains silent in U.S. custody will be difficult for many young readers to understand, but Ellis makes it easy to immerse oneself in this very foreign place, where hope thrives despite explosions and abused child brides and stonings. A must-buy title.–Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC
In post-Taliban Afghanistan, fifteen-year-old Parvana (The Breadwinner) is captured by Americans and undergoes enhanced interrogation to determine if she's a terrorist; alternating with this account are flashbacks set in her mother's trailblazing girls' school. There are some unexplained specifics and the flashbacks are sometimes difficult to follow, but the cultural details are rich and the story of Afghani women banding together is inspiring.

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