Alex O’Connell, impressed by the latest novel from Deborah Ellis (in The Times Saturday Review
When we meet Parvana she is incarcerated as a suspected terrorist by anonymous, foreign army chiefs after her school is bombed. Her captors believe she is the bomber; Parvana refuses to talk. The narrative moves back and forth between the story of the family’s fight to keep the school going and, after the school’s destruction, Parvana’s cell.
Ellis, a women’s rights and anti-war campaigner who lives in Ontario, Canada, has conducted many interviews in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan so the story feels realistic and the writing moves along at a gallop. She’s careful not to turn Parvana into a saint, to show that, despite her tough environment, teenagers are teenagers the world over.