Kids of Kabul Book Review

Kids of Kabul: Living Bravely Through a Never-ending War by Deborah Ellis
Groundwood Books
May 15, 2012

From Goodreads: (because I can't really say it any better) Since its publication in 2000, hundreds of thousands of children all over the world have read and loved The Breadwinner. By reading the story of eleven-year-old Parvana and her struggles living under the terror of the Taliban, young readers came to know the plight of children in Afghanistan.

But what has happened to Afghanistan’s children since the fall of the Taliban in 2001? In 2011, Deborah Ellis went to Kabul to find out. She interviewed children who spoke about their lives now. They are still living in a country torn apart by war. Violence and oppression still exist, particularly affecting the lives of girls, but the kids are weathering their lives with courage and optimism. The two dozen or so children featured in the book range in age from ten to seventeen. Many are girls Deb met through projects funded by Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, the organization that is supported by royalties from The Breadwinner Trilogy. Parvana’s Fund provides grants towards education projects for Afghan women and children, including schools, libraries and literacy programs.

The children in this book, wowed me with their unrelenting optimism in the face of so much tragedy. There is 14-year-old Faranoz, whose father is dead, and whose older brother takes care of her family but doesn't encourage her schooling. Even so, Faranoz goes to a meeting room with other women and has learned to read. She says, "I hope he[my brother] lets me go to a proper school one day because I like to be around books and I would like to be a doctor one day. I think I would be a good doctor. What else can I do with so much intelligence!" My heart leapt at her optimism and grew sad at the prospect that this may always be just a dream for this little girl. 

Sharifa, also 14, has a father who is an opium addict and no longer lives with them, making their life very difficult. Sharifa states, "I have decided not to be married. I want to be a doctor, and I don't want a husband that I have to take care of. I want to do good work and make a better life for me and my family." 

There are many stories from Parwais who works at the Kubal Museum, where he has learned the value of history, to Palwasha, who plays soccer with the Afghan Women's National Football Team, to Shaharazad, the daughter of a woman Afghan parliament member.

It was hard to read these stories, one after the other. The loss and devastation that war has left behind has shaped these children, yet within them they each carry a tiny spot of hope. Ellis helps create a picture of Afghanistan through the eyes of the next generation and how truly beautiful they are.