Title: My Name is Parvana
Author: Deborah Ellis
Teen Reviewer: Shannon Finney
Rating: 4/5 Stars
In My Name is Parvana, Deborah Ellis tells a powerful story about a teenage girl in Afghanistan who never gives up her hopes and dreams for her future even as conditions in the war-torn nation make life more and more difficult and dangerous for her family. An average girl struggling with her own emotions like any other teenager, Parvana faces problems that most Americans her age could not imagine – being accused of terrorism and imprisoned by foreign troops. The events that she recalls that led up to her imprisonment, her family working to create a school for girls much to the disapproval of the public, keep her mind occupied and invulnerable to the American soldiers’ threats. The love that binds her family and friends together against every danger gives her the strength to keep her head and the willpower to withhold information from the foreign troops.
My Name is Parvana is real, heart-wrenching, and compelling. Before reading this book, I, like most Americans, had a vague idea of what is going on overseas in Afghanistan, and had become numb and desensitized to the occasional report of another roadside bombing there, or a group of children being shot by the Taliban. What we rarely, if ever, hear about are the emaciated children in refugee camps, the young girls forced into marriages with older men, the activists who are assassinated for trying to make a better life for women – or the senseless violence and damage done by our own American troops. My Name is Parvana made me aware of these tragedies. The strength with which Parvana faces all of these dangers is absolutely inspiring, and empowering to all young girls and women. Deborah Ellis, with simplistic yet powerful prose, conveys a message that all American teenagers should hear – that there are people their age who have to break laws to get themselves an education, to feed their family, and even to dress and speak the way they want to.