This is the follow up to The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis.
The novel is aimed at young adults but does not shy away from the horrors of war. Parvana is 13 and disguised as a boy, she has lost her father and has set out across Afghanistan to search for the rest of her family. Along the way, she is always hungry, has to beg for food or ask for work and dodge the Taliban soldiers who would conscript her if they found her.
In one bombed out village, she finds a baby boy she names Hassan, and in a cave she discovers a crippled young boy, Arif, who has lost a leg. Trapped in a mine field, they are rescued by eight year old Leila who is alone trying to look after her old grandmother. Bombs force them to be on the move again until finally they arrive in a refugee camp where Parvana finds her mother and sisters but looks into the face of death again when Leila runs into a mine field to gather food parcels.
This book had me gripped and horrified in equal amounts, all readers will ask questions about war and what it does to people, especially children. The children in the novel have happy memories of life before the Taliban and none of them understand what is happening to them.
I'm looking forward to reading the last in the trilogy very soon.