An 11 year old girl lives in a tiny one room apartment in Kabul, Afghanistan with her family. She lives with her father, mother; Fatana, Older sister; Nooria, Younger Sister; Maryam and baby brother; Ali. Her name is Parvana. She had an older brother named Hossain but he was tragically killed in a land mine accident. The rules of the Taliban state that no women/girl can leave the house. So the only working parent or the “breadwinner” in this family is Parvana’s dad. But due to his leg injury it is very hard for him to work. Everyday Parvana used to go with her father to the marketplace, where he worked. He read and wrote letters both in Pashtu and Dari. Many of the Afghani people couldn’t read or write but among the few Parvana’s mother ad father both had been to university in England where they were both educated.
One day though the Taliban came into Parvana’s home and took her father away because he had been to university in England. He was then sent to jail there was no one to work or anyone for the family to depend on to make money so they survive, along with missing their father. When Parvana was getting food for her family one day and Taliban had spotted her and started chasing her. This was only because girls weren’t allowed outside of the house. But since she was a lot younger then him she outran him and got home safely. Parvana was then forced to cut her hair and dress like a boy (wearing her deceased brother Hossain’s clothes) because someone needed to for the family to survive. She then becomes her families Breadwinner.
After working for a while Parvana runs into a girl that she used to go to school with, her name was Shauzia. They started talking and working together and became best friends. Parvana and Shauzia were put the same experiences and that was a similarity that they could relate to. They were never this close in school, but now they were both trying to figure out how to earn more money. Parvana then meets an old family friend named Mrs. Weera, who was a former gym teacher at Parvana’s school who then stayed with the family and took charge of the house because Fatana was under depression of losing her husband. Mrs. Weera soon helped Fatana to get better and feel better when they then team up and make a group (with other women) to write the Afghanistan National Magazine. To and from Pakistan this magazine was “smuggled”.
Parvana and her older sister never got along but as this story goes on her and her sister bond more and become responsible and stronger (emotionally). She also becomes very close with the figure of a woman in the window of a building behind where Parvana normally works who throws small gifts onto her blanket while she is there.
The climax of this story is when Parvana’s older sister Nooria announces that she is going to Mazar-e-Sharif to get married to a boy that she has never met. She is going there because in that area there is no war going on and she wants to go to college (the Taliban hasn’t taken over that place yet). She leaves with her mother and younger siblings, but since they still need someone to make money and Parvana looks like a boy they leave her behind. Even though at first Parvana was against this decision, she soon grew to accept her sister’s choice/decision and stayed behind.
While staying in Kabul with Mrs. Weera, one day after work she meets a runaway girl from Mazar-e-Sharif who was upset and crying. Parvana leads her home and the girl name Homa told Parvana that Mazar-e-Sharif was captured by the Taliban. Homa’s family had been killed and she was lucky enough to run away. Mrs. Weera and Parvana gladly take her in, but Parvana gets worried because her family is going there
After a couple of days Parvana’s father returned home with a couple of men that had found him released from jail. He was unable to make it home himself due to the loss of his leg. The women nurse him back to health. Finally when he got better Parvana told him that the rest of the family was in Mazar-e-Sharif for Nooria’s wedding, and how Mazar-e-Sharif was then captured by the Taliban. Parvana and her father soon head out to get the family back but before they left Parvana saw her best friend Shauzia who was planning on running away so she wouldn’t have to marry and start a new life. She tells Parvana that she is leaving with some Shepherds.
The story ends with Shauzia and Parvana planning to meet in France on the top of the Eiffel Tower in 20 years. Parvana and her father were then off to Mazar-e-Sharif and Shauzia was off with the Shepherds.