Kids of Kabul: Living Bravely through a Never-Ending War

Deborah Ellis. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $15.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-55498-181-6
During a 2011 visit to Kabul, Ellis (the Breadwinner trilogy) recorded the stories of 27 Afghan children, represented in this stirring collection. While some are from prosperous families, others live in desperate circumstances. One 14-year-old is in prison for running away to escape an arranged marriage; an 11-year-old begs in the streets. Unspeakable events are described matter-of-factly ("I don't know why the Taliban killed my family"). Yet the children's hope is undimmed. When they are permitted to study, they excel, and when they are given time and space, they heal: "And look at me now! I am sitting up straight, looking you in the eye and telling my story in a loud, clear voice." They have hope for their country, too: "But if all that can stop, Afghanistan will be great, because there are so many of us who want it to be great." The dichotomy between the speakers' traumatic lives and their essential childlike natures is especially moving: one girl talks about a rocket attack and sharing makeup with her friends in almost the same breath. It's a gritty, poignant, and intensely personal glimpse into the effects of war and poverty. Ages 12–up. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/11/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
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