Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

rating: 4/5
genre: adult fiction

In A Thousand Splendid Suns we make our way to Afghanistan - an Afghanistan not yet reeling from the rise of the Taliban. In a hovel in the hills we meet Miriam - the illegitimate daughter of a rich businessman. Her lonely and harsh life only brightens when her charming father comes to visit and open her eyes to the outside world. When tragedy leaves Miriam with no one to turn to, she ends up being sent off to Kabul as the bride of a much older man named Rasheed. Their relationship quickly begins to decline soon after their marriage and Miriam becomes a victim of ruthless domestic violence - all the in the name of her husband's version of the Islamic law.

Part way in to the book we also meet Laila, whose coming of age is brutally interrupted by the Taliban and their rigid, enforced way of life. Despite Lalia's more normal and loving home life, it seems as though no family is free from tragedy in Afghanistan. With great need and a desperate secret, Laila and Miriam's lives intertwine in a way that will leave both of them clinging to each other for peace and survival.

Throughout this tumultuous and brutal period in Afghan history, we follow these two women - we ache for them and for all the innocent ones in Afghanistan. The beautiful thing about this book is that despite all the obstacles facing these characters we've come to love - they still find inside themselves enough strength to hope for something better. And despite the horrifying conditions and abusive relationships, humanity permeates the hearts of many. Their love for their native country and faith in its peoples' ability to overcome is particularly satisfying.

It is not, of course, a book for the faint of heart. Things were not pretty and while I appreciated Hosseini's tact, certain scenes nearly ripped my heart out. In the end, though, I found that this book left me feeling satisfied and with a greater understanding of the tragedies that have occurred in modern Afghanistan.

4 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I just got Kite Runner and I want to read it before I read A Thousand Splendid Suns. I know, I'm way behind.

Corinne said...

And I thought I was behind :)! I just read Kite Runner recently. I think I liked this one better.

Anna said...

I haven't read either of these, but I've heard only good things about them. They sound very powerful. Great review!

Trish said...

"certain scenes nearly ripped my heart out" For me too, Corinne!! I liked this one better than The Kite Runner also I think because of the female relationships but there were times that I put the book down and just cried...

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