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My Name is Parvana    by Deborah Ellis order for
My Name is Parvana
by Deborah Ellis
Order:  USA  Can
Groundwood, 2012 (2012)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

My Name is Parvana follows The Breadwinner, Parvana's Journey and Mud City, as the conclusion to Deborah Ellis' gripping account of a spirited young Afghan woman, trying to make sense of the madness that has engulfed her world.

In The Breadwinner, after her father was taken to prison, Parvana masqueraded as a boy to become the family breadwinner. Further dangerous adventures followed in Parvana's Journey (she crossed a war zone to find her family) and Mud City (Parvana's best friend Shauzia in Pakistan), both of which I missed. Now, My Name is Parvana continues the courageous young woman's story.

As the book opens, Parvana is being interrogated by American soldiers. She was found wandering in a bombed-out school (believed to be a staging area for Taliban attacks) and they suspect her of involvement with terrorists. Parvana does not answer; in fact she does not speak. Knowing her history, readers find it impossible to believe she would work with the Taliban, so why is she silent?

That question pulls reader interest through this engrossing story, as flashbacks (interspersed with Parvana's imprisonment and ongoing interrogation) slowly reveal what as led her to this point. She does not trust her captors; her previous experiences and tough childhood have taught Parvana that 'All she could trust was herself.'

Gradually we learn that the school where Parvana was found was established and run by her mother. Her older sister taught there, and Parvana was a student along with her youngest sister. Those who read the earlier books will find many familiar faces in the crowded school, though Parvana wonders what happened to Shauzia whom she last saw in Kabul.

Though all goes well at first for the school, Parvana misses her independence and is in regular conflict with her mother. After Nooria is accepted on scholarship to an American university, Parvana fills in as a teacher. Then threats against the school escalate, and the Taliban hide boxes in its locked storage shed. As matters worsen, it's up to Parvana to take charge - but where can she find help?

Parvana is a wonderful heroine, spirited and stubborn (often wrongly so) but good hearted and always ready to help others. Read My Name is Parvana to learn what disaster led to her capture and long interrogation, and how it was all resolved. Don't miss the Author's Note at the back that supplies background to the story. And note that royalties from the book go to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.

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