A decade after releasing the first novel in her lauded Afghanistan-set Breadwinner trilogy, Deborah Ellis returns with a non-fiction examination of how the children of that war-torn country have fared since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
Through the stories of more than 20 young Afghans ranging in age between 10 and 17 years old, Ellis takes a look at how some key social indicators have improved, while others have gotten worse. Topics such as the status of women, health care, and economic self-determination are at the forefront, and it will be impossible for any Canadian to read the profiles without feeling how difficult it must be to live in a country that has been ripped apart by war.
Introductions to the brief first-person narratives explain each story’s broader context, with reference to subjects such as poverty, mental illness, or the prevalence of land mines. In this way, readers learn individual stories while also comprehending how these slices of life are microcosms of larger societal issues. A helpful glossary explains words that are fundamental to understanding the politics of the region.
Young readers will likely appreciate Ellis’s approach, which renders social and political trends in one of the world’s most volatile regions accessible by focusing on the experiences of kids their own age.
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