Saturday, March 23, 2019

Review - The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel

The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel
by Deborah Ellis
adapted by Shelley Tanaka
Date: 2018
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Reading level: MG
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 80
Format: e-book
Source: library

This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.

Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed — works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for having forbidden books, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food.

As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner.

Readers will want to linger over this powerful graphic novel with its striking art and inspiring story.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This graphic novel is apparently based on an animated film, which I haven't seen. To be frank, I think I would've rather seen the film. I don't know if it's the e-book format or what, but the text adaptation is absolutely horrendous. Unfortunately, this detracts from what could be a moving story.

Parvana lives with her parents and siblings in Kabul. One day her father is taken away and thrown in jail, leaving the family without a means of support. Parvana cuts her hair and disguises herself as a boy so she can go out into the city and make a living. Meanwhile, her mother has arranged a marriage for her older sister, and war is coming. Parvana makes a desperate attempt to see her father in jail, while her mother and siblings end up being taken away by family members.

The book ends like many graphic novels do, as if it's to be continued in future installments (which I don't think is the case here). So I'm not sure if I like the ending; there are a lot of unanswered questions.

The story and setting are fraught with peril and heartache, but I found it kind of difficult to concentrate on those things when the text was so abysmal. It wasn't even a matter of a few typos (although there was a rather spectacular one with "first" spelled as "fiflrst"). Every instance of the word "find" seemed to be capitalized. Random words were in all caps. Half the names started with lowercase letters (but only some of the time). There were missing spaces all over the place so words ran together. I have no idea what happened with the text, but it's awful. Its only saving grace is that it's still intelligible enough to get the gist of the story.

If the physical editions of the graphic novel don't have these technical issues, then this is a decent book. As to the version I read, it seemed like it was rushed and slapped together just to cash in on the popularity of the film. And that's disappointing.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 1/5
Illustration: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall Rating: 2.75 out of 5 ladybugs

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