My Name Is Parvana

Deborah Ellis. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-55498-297-4
In this follow-up to the Breadwinner trilogy, set five years later, Ellis revisits her strong, 15-year-old heroine, now living in post-Taliban Afghanistan. The novel alternates between Parvana's struggles in an American prison (she is a suspect in an explosion at her mother's school) and flashbacks to her life before capture, first as a student at the school and then as a teacher. Though Parvana understands and reads English fluently, she refuses to speak ("She knew she could not trust them. All she could trust was herself"), silently enduring sleep deprivation and harsh interrogation. In the flashbacks, Ellis strongly sketches family tensions, including a betrayal by Parvana's sister Noori and Parvana's complicated relationship with her mother. A scene in which Parvana's discovery of an injured American soldier foils her near-escape underscores her compassion and morality. The resolution is perhaps too tidy, but Ellis succeeds in putting a human face on the headlines and the brutality of the Afghan war, while answering many questions about the fate of a heroine whose personality and force of will shine through. Ages 11–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
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