The Breadwinner is a graphic novel which may introduce readers to some very challenging topics and questions around gender, equality and violence. From the outset the female gender of the protagonist presents as a problem, in a male dominated and controlled world. The dark shades of colour throughout the panels reinforce the sombre, melancholy mood created by the words. An intertextual discourse runs throughout the work, striking a delicate balance between moments of clarity, and moments in which the reader must infer.
The stark realities of life in a war zone are shown to the reader clearly, with visual symbols such as tanks and landmines, and hinted at through the discussion of injuries and the approaching war. Alongside the physical dangers encountered by protagonist, the dangers of existing as a female in the space are made clear. The graphic novel is a great source for discussion and debate, especially for struggling readers who may find text-heavy novels difficult to access.
The topics of death, violence and child marriage make this adaptation of Cartoon Saloon’s feature-length film (itself an adaptation of Deborah Ellis’s hard-hitting novel) more suitable for older readers of 9+ all the way to YA.