Title: One More Mountain: A Parvana Story
Author: Deborah Ellis
Published: December 2022
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Middle Grade Fiction
I received a copy of One More Mountain from the publishers for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
From the master storyteller of the bestselling Parvana books comes a timely new novel set in contemporary Afghanistan, featuring Parvana and Shauzia continuing their mission to protect women and girls from their dire reality under the rules re-imposed by the Taliban.
It has been twenty years since Parvana and Shauzia had to disguise themselves as boys to support their families. And when the Taliban were defeated in 2001, they began to rebuild their lives. But everything changed in 2021 when the Taliban rose to power again and the restrictions they imposed had a devastating impact on women and girls and their hard-won freedoms.
With little warning, Kabul airport is shut down and danger is everywhere. And when the Taliban comes to Green Valley, Parvana and Shauzia’s community face new dangers from an old enemy as Afghanistan is once again under siege.
A hauntingly compelling story of courage, heartbreak and resilience.
The beginning of this review needs to start with a confession: I have not read Parvana. I believe we have copies at work, so it may be a book I grab to read over the Summer break, but I was intrigued enough by the idea of a middle grade story set in contemporary Afghanistan.
Set twenty years after the first book, it’s 2021 and the Taliban have once again risen to power in Afghanistan. The story opens with Damsa, a young girl escaping before she can be forced into marriage and she makes her way to Green Valley, the community Parvana and Shauzia built to support women. Now that community is under threat once more.
We follow a few characters in this book – Parvana, Damsa and Parvana’s son, Rafi. Damsa is having to learn how to be an independent young woman under tough conditions and Rafi was supposed to leave Afghanistan for the U.S. to study ballet but is caught up in the closure of the international airports.
This book does feature a lot of confronting scenes and ideas – oppression, violence, death of loved ones – but it also has a lot of hope, as all these characters try to find a way out of the circumstances they’re in.
It’s certainly a book that I’ll be thinking about for a while.