By Sarah Delaney
Set against the backdrop of turbulent Afghanistan, Khaled Hosseini’s highly acclaimed novel A Thousand Splendid Suns details the lives of two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila, and their journey to live a life that is truly their own in a time of chaos and confusion in their country.
If you are looking for a book that is going to protect you from the world, this is not a good choice. But if you are not afraid to be confronted with some of the world’s ugly and unjust truths which are paralleled with a world of love and hope, then you should give it a try.
It is a wonderful story that sends a powerful and important message. The book is filled with hate, love, violence, loss, and hope.
Mariam was the child of a wealthy business owner and his house worker. She spends her early years struggling to gain the affections of her father, who comes to visit her once a week. That is until she realized that her father does not recognize her as his child and responsibility, and marries her off to a much older man in Kabul.
Laila has a much different childhood from Mariam. She comes from a home where she is much loved by her father, and an upset and distracted mother who spends most of her time fretting over her two sons who are away at war. When the fighting in Kabul results in tragedy, Laila is pushed headfirst into Mariam’s life and makeshift family.
Together Mariam and Laila attempt to etch out some level of normalcy in their lives while trying to cope with life under the control and abuse of their husband, Rasheed. Throughout their struggles the two women become close friends and begin to raise a family.
This well written and moving novel is one that should be at the top of everyone’s ‘must read’ list. It is a story of hope and inspiration set in a time of war, where these feelings are rarely seen. The story helps the readers gain a deeper understanding into the lives of oppressed women in Kabul. Hosseini’s descriptive and detailed writings help the reader to visualize and relate to the story and the characters experiences. For example, one can feel Laila’s horror as she looks up after her house has been bombed, to see her father’s headless torso next to her.
Though many people have some knowledge about Islamic culture, and about the effects of the Taliban on people, and the lifestyle of a female in Islam, the book effectively refutes common misconceptions that all middle-eastern people are terrorists or associated with radical groups such as the Taliban.
The book brings awareness to the reader of the lives women lived while under the rule of the Taliban. This book makes that form of ignorance and apathy unreal. When a story such as this unfolds the reader connects with the characters. They are hurt when these women are mistreated. Hosseini’s strength as a writer, especially in the area of character impact and development, makes this novel truly impressive and inspirational.