Mud City is the story of Parvana’s best friend Shauzia, who fled Afghanistan for a better life elsewhere, only to find herself on her own and struggling to survive on the streets of Peshawar, Pakistan. Enduring harrowing experiences of her own, Shauzia is rescued by the Red Crescent…and then makes the brave decision to return with this humanitarian group to the country of her birth, and do what she can to help the thousands in need just across the border.
My Name is Parvana picks up the narrative some time later. Parvana has been captured by American soldiers who suspect her of being a terrorist. Parvana refuses to speak; she remembers the events of the past four years when she was reunited with what was left of her family and helped them to open a school. The Taliban threaten death and destruction unless the school closes down – and they carry through with their promise. But the American soldiers believe that Parvana was somehow connected to this event, and so Parvana sits alone in jail, until a dramatic bombing of the base forces Parvana to risk her life once again.
These are beautifully written books that capture the stark and battle scarred landscape of Afghanistan and the brave struggles of its ordinary citizens who try desperately to go on with their daily lives. Ellis does not flinch from describing the havoc that war wreaks, nor does she avoid writing about the brutality of the Taliban. But her characters are strong and determined women who inspire great admiration. This is an important series to have in our classrooms, to read and to discuss. My students hear about the war in Afghanistan mostly from television news accounts, and it all seems so foreign and far away to them. The Breadwinner series brings the war home, and it is an important reminder of the innocent people who are caught in the epicenter of a war that has gone on for far too long.
And here she is reading from one of her works:
Most of the royalties for these bestselling books go to Canadian Women for Women of Afghanistan, and their website provides information about ways in which readers can become active in the humanitarian cause which Deborah Ellis has become such a force in.