Each young person featured in the book gets her or his own episode of 3-5 pages each. Ellis introduces each episode with some important context, and then the remainder of each is in first person biographical form. Each story is heartbreaking in its losses and brutalities, and for many you can tell the glimmer of hope they offer in the narrative is not likely to pan out in the coming years.
One of the difficult things about presenting the 'man's inhumanity to man' theme is that the sheer volume of inhumanity can be discouraging to young readers. I remember feeling this way when I watched Roots and The Holocaust miniseries as a child, and I still won't watch or read Of Mice and Men because it was too hard on me when I first experienced it--I wasn't ready. For young people who are struggling against the small inhumanities they experience everyday, the message that the whole world is this way and on a much grander scale is too horrifying. I think it takes special teachers and parents to help kids understand that morality is uneven in the world, and that each person's life history is largely a matter of luck (what Warren Buffett called the "ovarian lottery").
The difficult characters to understand in this type of story, however, are the ones who do the worst to others. Other authors clearly explore the psyches of prison guards, SS officers, and slave owners. In this book, however, the Taliban is presented as a monolithic, non-personal evil. The children telling their stories find the Taliban and their efforts incomprehensible, and speak of the Taliban collectively and not as individuals. Maybe Ellis was wise to let her informants tell the story as they feel it, instead of trying to make them seem like adults.