Saturday, 21 March 2015

Parvana by Deborah Ellis (Young Adult)

I have not been one to read young adult fiction. I never thought it would interest me. But I read something recently that of all adult fiction it is 49% of adults in our population that do read it.

I have always been interested in what our young adults/teenagers read but I have not been inclined to pick it up.

Being totally bored with my TBR challenge and missing the library terribly, in a moment of weakness I went to the library.  Whilst there I found this wonderful YA book by Deborah Ellis.  (Okay, sometime during the next six months I will trade my TBR challenge for new/different books.)

I came across the book list on Yahoo called 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. I had not looked through that though I had heard of the book. This title is one of those books that is recommended.

I picked this book up and today I sat outside in the yard with the dogs, in the sunshine (as it is the first day of autumn here) and became thoroughly engrossed in this wonderful book.

Parvana is a young Afghan girl who lives with her family in a one roomed flat in Kabul.  She lives there with her mother and father, younger brother and sister and her older sister who is 17 years old.  When the Taliban learns her father was educated in an England University he is taken away by the Taliban and the family are left without their breadwinner.  The only way this family is going to earn money is if Parvana dresses like a boy and takes over her father's place at the market reading and writing letters and also selling little trinkets.  Women are not allowed outside without a man and now there are no men in her life.

Her life is changed very much as a young boy instead of a young girl and this book details her encounters with other people in the area and her family life.

This book gripped me from the very beginning and I cared very much about this young girl's family. Descriptions of her home and work life were realistic under today's Taliban and the oppression of girls and women is certainly felt.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is able to read it. It is a lovely family story, but still manages to get across the horrors of war and doesn't pull any punches with some of the incidents that happen within this community.  I see there is a sequel to this book called Parvana's Journey and I have already reserved this and will pick it up at the library soon. I am interested in seeing what happens to this family as we are left hanging a bit. One story finishes in this story, but there are threads that do continue and it is necessary to read the sequel.

If all Young Adult fiction is as excellent as this book I think I will branch out a bit and read more of it. Stories such as this, with the details within would not have been in the books I read as a young adult/teenager.  Books were a bit more sugar coated in those days and I am happy that younger people in today's society are able to have more realistic life stories.  I'll let you know if the sequel is as good.


  1. I read your post with interest. I read YA sometimes because I work with younger readers and your right Parvana and its sequel are excellent and there other really excellent young adult titles. Could I recommend Marrying Ameera by Roseanne Hawke which is tense drama revolving around a Pakistani Australian teenager who finds herself the subject or an arranged marriage or any book by Sonya Hartnett. I could go on and on about quality YA, there is also so truly dreadful stuff out there. Your library should have a young person's librarian who could make lots of great recommendations. I hope you do get to explore YA and find lots of titles that are good value.

    1. Thank you Arabella. I am familiar with Sonya Hartnett. Thank you for your suggestions and for dropping by.

  2. Yes, this is one of the best children's books I know. Many of my Y5&6 students read it, and for the insights it gives to the world of Afghanistan under the Taliban, I think it would be stimulating reading for secondary students and adults as well.
    Arabella is right, there is a lot of rubbish out there but there is also some top quality fiction that is unforgettable. I would love to find a blog that specialises in YA fiction, but I don't know of one anywhere.

    1. You are so right Lisa. I subscribe to the blog and she often features books for children and young adults. She is one of the bloggers that has inspired me to read outside of the box.


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