The Breadwinner: A story of family, bravery, and perseverance

I’m a student who loves to read and learn more about new things. I’d like to recommend a graphic novel that I’ve recently discovered and loved: The Breadwinner, by Shelly Tanaka.

The plot of the graphic novel follows the journey of a young girl forced to dress like a boy in order to overcome the sexism she faces as a girl to provide for her family and free her father from prison. She reconnects with old childhood friends who also suffer in similar situations as her, which highlights the suffering of the people due to the culture and societal pressures in Afghanistan, where The Breadwinner takes place. The novel is a good way to learn about how the people of Afghanistan are affected by the rule of the Taliban and political instability resulting from the war that our country the United States fought in from 2001-2021. Reading this graphic novel exposes you not only to the people’s suffering, but also the kindness and perseverance in the community to overcome this suffering. 

Screenshot of page 37 of digital version of The Breadwinner. This mother perseveres and risks the challenges of the desert by refusing to leave her daughter in order to keep her family together.

As a highschool student, I really enjoyed reading The Breadwinner myself because the character’s strength and perseverance inspired me so much. I also really enjoyed the relationship dynamic between the friendships and family in the graphic novel because they were something that I could relate to in my own life. Additionally, this read helped me educate myself on how the war fought by the U.S. in Afghanistan and the Taliban affected the citizens of Afghanistan. It helped me stay more informed of the state of the world around me, which is important as a highschool student, since I will soon be able to vote and must prepare and educate myself to make informed decisions.

If you enjoyed reading the I Survived series, you will enjoy The Breadwinner. The graphic novel is similar to books in the I Survived  series since it is realistic fiction and follows the journey of a seemingly ordinary, relatable person being forced to step up in order to survive extraordinary circumstances. 

Next time you’re looking for something to read, pick up The Breadwinner. It’s an inspiring, educating, and enlightening read that can open your eyes to another perspective in life.

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