I am so happy I read this book! I know I probably should explain what the book is about before I say how I felt about it. But I'm just really excited to talk about how much I loved this book! I first heard about it on BookTube when the animated movie was coming out. When I heard what the subject matter was about, I knew that this is a book that I had to read, and I am so glad I did.
The Breadwinner follows a young girl named Parvana living under the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. She and her family try to make the best out of a terrible situation, until one day her father is arrested by the Taliban and she, along with the rest of her family, are left to fend for themselves. Disguised as a boy, Parvana takes it upon herself to provide for her family, find her missing father, all whilst hiding from the Taliban's cruel regime. Because if they were to find out a girl was passing herself as a boy, it would be death not only for Parvana, but her entire family.
Let's start off with the story itself. First off, this is a very hard-hitting book. I love it, yes, but it's not light-hearted in the least. We are reading about war. War is cold. War is violent. War is bloody. War is death. And this book displays the hard truths of war with each page you read. I love it for being as blunt as it is because we need to read about the truth. We need to know about the horrible acts that innocent men had to endure if they went against the Taliban. We need to know that women weren't allowed outside without a man, covered head to toe, and was beaten even if they looked at another man. We need to know young girls were being married off, usually to much older men, and having children whilst they were still children themselves. It's difficult to digest but it's important to know these events are happening in our world. To educate ourselves and to do something about it.
There's violence, abuse, starvation, and sickness that men, women, and children experience throughout the book. The violence towards women and young girls are especially prevalent. Ellis writes a story to give women and girls a voice in Afghanistan who have been abused just because of their gender. She does not shy away from giving the gritty details about what these women had to suffer through. Ellis writes a beautiful story about the heartache many families had to endure during this time period and does it in a way where the reader feels empathy and sympathy for them. It hurts to read about, but it's a necessary hurt. Her descriptions of a decrepit Kabul are vivid and devastating. Ellis did a fantastic job in bringing awareness to such issues happening in Afghanistan. And for that, I am grateful.
Ellis's characters are also well-written. Each one is as vivid, complex, and beautiful as the next character. Parvana, herself, is such an extraordinary character. She is only eleven-years-old yet she is willing to risk her life for her family. She wants to just have fun and go to school like any child should, but she recognizes the situation she is in calls for other actions and is more than willing to change, to do what she must in order to save herself and her family. She is strong, brave, and amazing. Everyone in her family is like that in their own way. They are just trying to live in the best way they know how. In a war-torn country, there are many people just trying to live to the best of their abilities.
Parvana also has a friend called Shauzia and I feel for her so much. She doesn't have as good a living situation as Parvana, and she wants to move as far away as possible. She, too, is brave and strong, but she struggles with leaving because everyone is expecting her to be there for her family... even though her family is abusive. She must come to term with either staying in Afghanistan with an abusive family or making her escape and living a good life in France. She is one of those characters that just breaks your heart and you hope that somehow, someway, they are able to make it out of their situation. I want to continue reading the series just to see what becomes of these beautiful characters.
There's another character that appears in the book that I'm very interested in. She only appears during a few scenes, doesn't have any dialogue, but leaves such a powerful impression and I want to know more about her. She is only known as The Woman in the Window and she occasionally threw presents down to Parvana when she was trying to earn a little bit of money. We don't know anything about her but she really is quite fascinating. I want to know more about her and I hope she appears in the other books as well.
And I'm going to end it here. Honestly, I could go on and on about this book. It's absolutely amazing what Ellis has written here. I encourage everyone to read it. And once you do, go watch the movie because it's just as beautiful. I don't love it as much as the book, but it's still good. I highly recommend both! Just keep in mind that there's violence, blood, gore, and abuse. But it is important to learn this story so that, one day, things like this won't ever happen again. So, please, read this book and watch the movie. They are incredible!
I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series. I need to know what's going to happen with Parvana and her family!