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Shana's Letter to Deborah Ellis
By Shana Reichlin
Genre: Non-fiction Level: Junior 7-9
Year: 2004 Category: Letters About Literature

Dear Deborah Ellis,

I am a person who doesn't read unless there is a book report due. I can honestly tell you that books have never really been my favorite because I have never enjoyed reading. After I read your book, The Breadwinner, I have been very open to a lot of other books. It was an engrossing story about a young girl in a different culture.

The Breadwinner inspired me in many ways. The book showed me how much different my life is than other peoples and that not everybody is like me. Not everybody has as much money as I do and not everybody has the same freedom as me. I find that sad because I am not accustomed to that way of life. The things that kept me reading were the moments that the character was sad, happy and frightened. I was always in suspense with what was going to happen next.

Your book also made me realize what the people in Afghanistan go through. Day to day living must be really hard for them. I would hate to wear a burqa and have to have a man's permission every time I wanted to step outside. There are other things that are unfair, too. The fact that no girls can have an education keeps them from learning. I believe education is a key necessity in growing up. These things make me realize I have so much freedom here in America and I can make choices about things that women in Afghanistan can't.

I think Parvana is a brave hero. She thought of her family before herself and risked her life while doing so. She sacrificed her looks to make it so her family had food to eat and water to drink. She achieved her goal of making money for her family to live.

I can relate to Parvana's goals in life. She set a big goal that affected her whole life just like I am going to do in about a month. Parvana's goal was changing her image to support her family. My goal is doing well at my Bat Mitzvah. It is a huge thing, I have to stand up in front of about 200 people and read in Hebrew. Hebrew is a language that I've been learning for a while now, but after all these years I have to stand up and lead a service in it. It's hard! I'm going to have confidence in myself just like Parvana did. We both face the same experience but in different activities. Both experiences will have different results. My Bat Mitzvah will be the event I remember all my life and something that will make me part of a congregation. Parvana's will be a time in her life she will remember. She will have to adjust to it because she cut her hair and people had been calling her a different name. She would have to get used to those small things.


Shana Reichlin

7th Grade
Girdwood Jr. High School, Girdwood, Alaska
Teacher: Judy Onslow

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