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The Breadwinner

(The Breadwinner #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  21,629 ratings  ·  2,183 reviews
Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, 11-year-old Parvana has rarely been outdoors. Barred from attending school, shopping at the market, or even playing in the streets of Kabul, the heroine of Deborah Ellis's engrossing children's novel The Breadwinner is trapped inside her family's one-room home. That is, until the Taliban hauls away her father and Parvana realizes th ...more
Paperback, 171 pages
Published October 25th 2001 by Groundwood Books (first published September 1st 2000)
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Smiley If you want the answer here it is. Read the second book: Parvana
Jannat This is the first book and the next three (Parvana's Journey, Mud City, and My Name Is Parvana) continue on the same story with the same characters. Y…moreThis is the first book and the next three (Parvana's Journey, Mud City, and My Name Is Parvana) continue on the same story with the same characters. You should read the rest of them too, all of them are amazing.(less)

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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  21,629 ratings  ·  2,183 reviews

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Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has an interest in women and their plight in the Middle East
According to a 2014 UN report, Afghanistan is the worst country in the world to be born a girl. The average life expectancy of a woman is 44 years. Given such harsh gender segregation, many families are bringing up their daughters as sons. They are known as bacha posh – the literal term translated from Dari for a girl “dressed like a boy” in Afghanistan.

This is a photo of Mehran Rafaat, a girl disguised as a boy, with her twin sisters outside their family home in Afghanistan.
Photograph: Adam Fe
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I discovered this book a few days back after watching the trailer of its movie adaption. The trailer was stunning. So I searched for it on the internet to know some more about it and found out the Parvana series! Kudos to myself! :v

This book highlights the story of an eleven years old girl named Parvana who leads a very miserable life in Afghanistan because of the Taliban. Each day comes with new hardship for her and her family. Girls there cannot go to school, women must not come out of their
Rebecca McPhedran
I absolutely LOVED this book. I read it in less than 24 hours. It is a beautifully written story about a young Afghan girl named Parvana who is growing up in Taliban-occupied Afghanistan. Her story is amazing, I know that it is fiction, but I believe that the author, Deborah Ellis, did a lot of research on how women live in Afghanistan. Anyway, Parvana's family is very well educated, and thus are considered to be a threat to the Taliban. Parvana's father can read and has a little place in the ma ...more
Lauren Lanz
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To put it simply- The Breadwinner is a glimpse into the lives of women and girls in the war torn country of Afghanistan. 20 years of war have resulted in poor governing and awful treatment towards the lives of women and young girls.

The Taliban are very prominent in Afghanistan’s turmoil and this novel’s portrayal of events. Before reading the Breadwinner, all I’d known of the Taliban came from Malala Yousafzai’s real life story. The horrifying things that they do to supposedly keep citizens in
I have wanted to read this book since middle school and finally decided to cheack it out after seeing a trailer for the movie.
Parvana is a young girl living in Afganistan during the Taliban regime. After her father is arrested and sent to prison, Parvana must dress and live as a boy in order to provide for her family.
I loved Parvana and her family and I plan on reading the rest of the series really soon.
Jeannie Donovan
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My middle school students responded so strongly to my booktalk about this book, that the library and the local bookstores ran out, and many went on to read the sequel. However, do not be quick to label this as purely young adult fiction. As an adult, I was changed and moved by Parvana and her family, and this novel has stuck with me vividly for 12 years.
Nusrat Mahmood
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think Khaled hosseini is the first person for most of us who raised an interest to have a sight on Afgan lifestyle, their politics, their history and so on. I am not any different from those readers. for the sake of that, I have been reading anything on Afganistan since the Kite Runner amused me. Through this journey, I have met beautiful writers and their heartbreaking stories. Deborah Ellis is not different than them.

I have discovered the Breadwinner while watching movie trailers on youtube
Smitha Murthy
A quiet tale of heroic courage set in Afghanistan, ‘The Breadwinner’ is a charming tale that speaks of the horrors of war with a warm dignity. I have read quite a few books on war, but I don’t think I have read many written for a child.

Parvana’s voice is lyrical and affecting, and as I read certain chapters of the book, I was moved by how the things we take for granted are often missed in life elsewhere. That’s one of the reasons I travel. There is this passage where Parvana is able to take her
Daina Chakma
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book will left you with a heavy heart! 💔
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Parvana by Deborah Ellis

It was a re-read and a quick one at that but every word on every page was so perfectly put. I can't even write out all of the things that are running through my head.
Tragedy after tragedy. Hope and disappointment. A happy moment followed by days and weeks of depression. It's just kind of hard to imagine that so many people actually have that life. Girls that have to disguise themselves as boys. Women not being able to go outside. Men being punished for having an educatio
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I have ever read. All The ideas in the book have logical supporting evidence, The characters are very realistic due to their activities and appearance. I would recommend this book to each and every student in the world (Even the bullies). I think when someone reads this book their thought about Afghanistan and Afghan people must change. This book was just so realistic and so pure that it took my breath away. I could literally feel the characters' feelings, sometimes ...more
Francesca Tubito
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
Parvana is a great book! The book is very interesting... It doesn't only explain how Parvana is feeling, but it also describes how other girls in Afghanistan survive with the Taliban in control. Some girls in Afghanistan are scared to go outside, I would be too, but Parvana is brave to go outside to get food for her family. At the end Parvana, goes back to see her family which is sad and happy at the same time... I really LOVED this book and I can't wait to read "Parvana's Journey!" ...more
Deborah Pickstone
5.5 stars

Strong storyline, excellent characterisation, gripping prose - and worst of's true. These things did happen, are happening; it's real. The story is a story but someone like these characters exists. Tragic. Horrific. We in the West are so spoiled and lucky.

Read this - it's worth the short amount of time it will take you. It's no YA book, it's for everyone. And the women out there with no voices deserve to have us at least contemplate what their lives are like.
Hafsa Sabira
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I can't praise this book enough. This book serves as an insight into the lives of the Afghan people who are going through continuous wars for more than 20 years. Some kids were born during war time, heard about the prosperous past of their nation from their parents and dreamed at night about better future, later died during war time. However,this particular novella sheds light in the Taliban rule in Afghanistan and tells the story of an 11 years old girl,Parvana. Born in a highly educated and pr ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book tells you about Parvana, a little Afghan girl, and her mother, who try to make a living. The mother is waiting for Jamil, Parvana's elder brother, to visit them for the first time after years.
He must come and visit them soon.
He must.

My first introduction to Afghanistan when I was on my first year after primary school. I remember we have collected milk to send to Afghan children at the time. Incidentally, it was my first introduction to Nantes too.
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was amazing. I had heard nothing about it before hand.
Really good eye opener to another world and the difficulties it faces every day.
I loved Mrs Weera.
Kirsten Millar
Feb 22, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dee Dee G
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book gave a glimpse of life of the people in Afghanistan. My emotions were all over the place as I read this.
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
The novel The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis is a book concerning human rights. In this novel the main character Parvana, an eleven year old girl is living in a one room home with her five family members in Afghanistan. At the time, the Taliban are ruling their town and orders all the girls and women in Afghanistan to stay inside their homes. They even forbid girls to go to school or walk outside without a man. Throughout the novel Parvana comes across many challenges such as loosing her father, c ...more
Aj Sterkel
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Likes: Parvana is a spunky eleven-year-old who is easy to love. Even though she constantly bickers with her siblings (because she’s forced to live in one room with them), she truly cares about them. When her father is arrested, Parvana is forced to find innovative ways to provide for her family.

For an adult reader, this book is a quick read. It makes you grateful for everything you have. I’m happy that I don’t live in bombed-out ruins and that nobody I know has been arrested for owning books. My
Rebecca Einstein
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was assigned to my son, who is in the 6th grade. Because he struggles with reading, I have made it a habit to read the same books that he is reading for school.

And I am so glad.

Because I might not have had any other reason to discover this very compelling story.

It was a fast read and one that gave me particular insights into life under the Taliban regime. I am looking forward to many great discussions with my son as he and his classmates make their way through it.
Mar 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I found this book kind of boring. Although this is mainly because of my preference for fast paced and exciting books like the Hunger Games. Even though I didn’t enjoy this book to much it wasn’t a waste of my time because it really lets you understand what is happening in a different part of the world.

I think that this book was well written because it lets you understand what is going on in everyone’s head, while being written in third-person.
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think Parvana was a very good book. Deborah Ellis keeps action in the story, while still developing the character of Parvana. The writing flows smoothly and was very enjoyable. I liked the whole book, but it gets very exciting in chapters fourteen and fifteen. It has a good ending, but it makes the reader want to know more about Parvana, and what happens to her.
Betsy Gant
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In addition to reading this, please watch the children's cartoon movie based on this book (and it's really very intense to call it a children's book/movie). I wish everyone could see and wake up to the horrors against women in Taliban/ISIS countries. ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
Waiting to read part 2!
Melissa Marie
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So many things to say about this sweet yet heartbreaking book.

1. It was recommended to me first many years ago by a fellow teacher friend who was actually reading it with her social studies class and couldn’t say better things about the story and what it was teaching to her 7th graders, so shoutout to Stacy for the great rec! 😻

2. Having done a mini unit on Malala that same year with my own students, and of course being a huge Malala Stan, I loved the references to Malali in this story and the w
Masud Mass Hoque
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic novel. I cannot decide whether it is more heart wrenching or heartwarming. I can perhaps agree that the story warmly tugs at your heartstrings, weave them into a wonderful chain then proceeds to strangle your heart like a garrote.

Deborah Willis writes with simplicity fitting for a children's book. But the writing also has a frank straightforward manner of illustrating the depressing situation in war-ravaged Afghanistan for over 20 years.

Parvana, our little Malali, lives in a life o
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Interested in Children's Fiction Set in Afghanistan Under the Taliban
In 1997, Canadian author Deborah Ellis traveled to Pakistan, where she worked in a camp set up for Afghani refugees, interviewing the women she met, and learning about their experiences under the oppressive Taliban regime. The stories she heard on that trip form the basis for her Breadwinner Trilogy, an acclaimed series of children's novels devoted to the experiences of women and girls in Afghanistan. The first of these, The Breadwinner, was published just a few months before the events of Septe ...more
Confidential Ness
Dec 21, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book had potential. A children/young adult book set in a country ravaged by war COULD have been an interesting, dark book, but simple bad writing ruined it.
The whole book was written in the style of:
My mother cried and started hitting them. They shot her. I cried and hid. They went away. I came out.
It's very bland, clunky and downright painful. There is little exploration of their religion, and characters who hasn't been educated is quickly dismissed as stupid and unimportant, even if th
I enjoyed The Breadwinner. It was good to read a YA novel again since it had been awhile.

Last year I read Khaled Husseini's The Kite Runner. Like The Kite Runner, The Breadwinner is set in Afghanistan. The time is sometime in the 1990s. Parvana is a young girl from an educated, middle class family who is now impoverished after years of living through civil war and the strict theocratic of the Taliban. When Parvana's disabled father is arrested by the Taliban she has to make some really tough, l
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Deborah Ellis has achieved international acclaim with her courageous and dramatic books that give Western readers a glimpse into the plight of children in developing countries.

She has won the Governor General's Award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Middle East Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award.

A long-t

Other books in the series

The Breadwinner (4 books)
  • Parvana's Journey (The Breadwinner, #2)
  • Mud City (The Breadwinner, #3)
  • My Name Is Parvana (The Breadwinner, #4)

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