Mud City by Deborah Ellis

Book Cover:  Mud City by Deborah EllisMud City by Deborah Ellis is the third and final installment of The Breadwinner Series. You may read my review of The Breadwinner and myBook Cover:  The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis review of Parvana’s Journey. I thought this was a great series. If you haven’t read them, I highly recommend them. As a brief recap the first book The Breadwinner is about a little girl Parvana in Afghanistan during the height of Taliban rule. Her family has lost everything including their home. Her father has been thrown in prison and her mother and sister are not allowed to leave the house as they no longer have a male escort. Parvana is still young enough that she cuts off her hair, dresses in boy’s clothes and tries toBook Cover: Parvana's Journey by Deborah Ellis support her family. In Parvana’s Journey, the second book, we find Parvana wandering through Afghanistan. Her father has just died and she has no idea where her mother and siblings are. As she crosses through the wilderness she bands together with other children and they all try to take care of each other as they search for her family.

In Mud City, I expected the story to be about Parvana’s experiences in a refugee camp. I was completely surprised when instead the story was about Shauzia, Parvana’s best friend with whom we are introduced in the first book. In fact, Parvana isn’t even in this book. I have never heard of an author changing the main character in a series before. Has this been done? I thought it was really strange. Since I had become so attached to Parvana, I really did want to hear the rest of her story. If Deborah Ellis wanted to share Shazia’s story, I only wish that it would have been done by Parvana and Shauzia reconnecting. Having said that, I still really liked this book.

We find fourteen year old Shauzia and her dog Jasper in a refugee camp in Pakistan having left her miserable life in Kabul, Afghanistan behind. She carries with her a magazine cutout of a field of lavender flowers and dreams of one day visiting France and seeing the ocean. She decides that the only way to make her dream come true is to leave the refugee camp and instead earn money on the streets. Living on the streets is dangerous, scary, adventurous, and she even spends a night at the local jail. She discovers that navigating her way through a country full of Afghan refugees is not easy and that her dream of escaping her miserable life may well be out of her hands.

To tell you the truth, I was sad to have this series come to an end. Deborah Ellis was a wonderful storyteller who sheds light on the plight of children in war-torn countries particularly Afghanistan and Pakistan. Another book of hers that I would like to read is Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak. I discovered this one listed at the back of Tasting the Sky, A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat which I also just finished.


  1. Thanks for the recommendation, these look like great books that I would enjoy.

    on April 7th, 2008 at 12:59 pm
  2. I’m really looking forward to reading these books. But do you ever learn what happened to Parvana? I’m disappointed that the last book didn’t follow her story even though I haven’t even started the series yet. :) I guess I like the feeling of closure.

    on April 8th, 2008 at 5:52 am
  3. Amy – Try them out. They’re worth it!

    Little Miao – I think there is enough closure for Parvana at the end of the second book but I still was disappointed that we didn’t continue on with her story. It just caught me completely off guard that we changed main characters in the third book. Actually I was about 20 pages in (I know I’m slow) when I realized that Ellis was not writing about Parvana. I guess my eyes just glossed right over Shauzia’s name. Her story is good and enlightens us about the difficulties as a refugee living in Pakistan. A great series!

    on April 8th, 2008 at 8:25 am
  4. i read the book mud city it was for a school thing (im really glad my teacher picked this book!) It was a great book!!! once i started to read i just couldn’t stop, untill i was done reading the last page!:) i haven’t read the pervious ones yet though, but i sure will!
    if anyone is looking for a great book to read, u have got to try mud city or even any of Deborah Ellis books! trust me there great!!!!!!!!!!

    on April 13th, 2008 at 8:32 pm
  5. I have read this book, it’s great,too. I loved all the books,but I like the second one better because when I was going to read it, I thought Parvana wasn’t going to find her family,but she did

    One of your biggest fans,


    on April 26th, 2008 at 5:22 pm
  6. Zoey – What enthusiasm!

    Erica – I’ll see if I can pass on your sentiments.

    on April 26th, 2008 at 11:05 pm
  7. hi!!! can anyone please help me asap….is the book ‘Mud City’ non-fiction???

    on May 28th, 2008 at 8:23 am
  8. Hi Angie – No, Mud City is not non-fiction. It is fiction. Glad to have helped!

    on May 28th, 2008 at 8:29 am
  9. isint there a book called shaziau not mud city

    on September 10th, 2008 at 5:44 pm
  10. Justin – I’m not 100% sure which book you are referring to. I couldn’t find anything under that title. As far as Mud City, it is the third installment of the Parvana series.

    on September 10th, 2008 at 9:37 pm
  11. in fact the book breadwinner is also called parvana and mud city is also called shauiza…. and i have read parvana (breadwinner) and am half way through parvana’s journey and its great

    on March 9th, 2009 at 10:56 pm
  12. Im only 12 and i live in winnipeg,manitoba but i love this book. Me in school i hardly dont listen i hate reading and wrighting im really no good, but then i heard of this book im only reading the breadwinner because thats the only book i could find but if i do find the second part im definitly going to read it.So for anyone whos not sure if the want to read it i think you should it really great. Now i know why it won so many awards.HA Ah Ha

    on March 25th, 2009 at 12:52 pm
  13. I rea The Breadwinner in social studies. I hope to read the next two soon!!!

    on May 25th, 2009 at 7:06 pm
  14. I read the Parvana, the first book and I absolutely hated it. Why would anyone read these books. It is a fictious representation of Afghan culture and Afghan life. I’m Afghan myself and I had to read this for English. It was so patronising reading something that was so badly researched and so idiotically written. I always knew this series but had never read it because I don’t like the fact that someone who is not Afghan is writing something about my culture and my country. She obviously does not have a clue about what she is writing and made it seem like Afghanistan is hell on earth. Deborah Ellis has written an ignorant story about afghanistan, which is later read by people therefore making them ignorant to afghan culture and way of life. I NEED TO EMPHASISE THAT THIS IS FICTIONAL. And not true in anyway. I felt embarressed for her and cannot believe that she would recieve any recognition for such false and misleading stories. I am DEFINITELY NOT reading the next books. Just writing this is making my blood pressure rise, if i read the other books i’ll have a heart attack.

    on August 23rd, 2009 at 12:21 am
  15. i want to make a book report of this story so any one there who can help me out plz???

    on September 29th, 2009 at 9:51 am
  16. I loved these books too, but was a little disappointed about Parvana not being in the second. I had to read the first for school, which surprised me because it was a very easy book to read. It has a great story, but does not push vocabulary or reading skills.

    on October 12th, 2009 at 3:53 pm
  17. To Sosan, I am surprised you felt that way. I do want to mention though that the first is older, from 2000 I think and that Deborah Ellis went to Afghanistan and stayed with many people, most of which were living in refugee camps to get the basis of this story. The only places she makes seem awful in these are places under the Taliban. Also, she has recognition from some pretty prestigious award givers, which wouldn’t have given her any if she poorly depicted the ways of life.

    on October 12th, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    on October 29th, 2009 at 8:16 pm
  19. wow erica you spoiled the ending to the second book for me. thanks a lot

    on January 24th, 2010 at 8:54 pm
  20. i didnt really like the book it wasnt really an attention grabber for me sorry

    on February 5th, 2010 at 6:37 pm
  21. yes, it has happened before where the author changes the main chacter. in the tales from dimwood forest series.

    on February 14th, 2010 at 10:20 pm
  22. Hi…………i was wounder does anyone no how parvana and Shauzia meat i need help asap with this
    thanks :)


    on March 24th, 2010 at 4:40 pm
  23. [...] More book blogger reviews.  Deborah Ellis books also reviewed by Maw Books: The Breadwinner, Mud City, Parvana’s Journey, Lunch with Lenin and Other Stories, The Heaven Shop. Genre:  Young Adult [...]

    on September 1st, 2010 at 5:59 am
  24. I just read the two books- The breadwinner and Parvana’s Journey and they were the most amazing books i’ve ever read. Very emotional but just amazing. :)

    on April 14th, 2011 at 2:12 pm
  25. I thought this book was amazing and its a real eye opener for wat afghanistan back in the day i higly reccomend it. i read it for school and we even got to meet the author debrah ellis! :)

    on May 7th, 2011 at 12:31 pm
  26. hey people i was wondering if anyone knew the protagonist and antagonist of the story. also i need a climax of the story or evenn a link to it because i cant find any. thanks oh i need asap :)

    on September 27th, 2011 at 5:23 pm
  27. natalia/natalie(in english) u go to smitha middle school and live in georgia, marietta and live in the other part of milford chase sub division and ride the bus with alexis and is friends with maria : i have been stalking u for 3 years / since i moved to georgia and went to school with u at birney in 5th grade |.]

    on October 24th, 2011 at 8:13 pm
  28. natalia/natalie(in english) u go to smitha middle school and live in georgia, marietta and live in the other part of milford chase sub division and ride the bus with alexis and is friends with maria : i have been stalking u for 3 years / since i moved to georgia and went to school with u at birney in 5th grade :]

    on October 24th, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Comment Here ↓

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Look for These Book Reviews and More in the Maw Books Archives: