The Breadwinner


by Deborah Ellis

Set against the background of Afghanistan under Taliban rule, The Breadwinner gives some insight into a culture of fear and repression of which we in the West can have little understanding. Parvana lives in a run down one room apartment with her parents and her older sister. Her brother had been killed some years previously. Before the Taliban came to power, her parents had been teachers and she and her sister had attended school. Now life is very different. Her father scrapes a living by reading or translating letters and documents in the marketplace and selling the few bits of property they have left. Parvana is allowed to accompany him to help but her sister and mother must stay indoors. Then one day the Taliban arrest Parvana's father and this household of women is left unable to go out even to buy food for fear of being arrested or attacked. There's only one thing for it: Parvana must cut her hair, dress in her brother's clothes and pretend to be a boy. As she looks around the market place, Parvana realises that her family is not the only ones to take such desperate measures. At times shocking, horrific and disturbing, this story is ultimately one of hope and the power of love and friendship. This is a fairly short novel with good sized text and an easy, flowing use of language. However, the subject matter makes it a challenging read for Upper KS2 and KS3 children.

KS2 KS3 issues cross-curricular paperback fiction

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Dreams & Aspirations theme | Fiction | Issues | cultural diversity