2015 Book #101 – A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Date finished: 9/21/15
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Riverhead
Publication Date: May 22, 2007
Pages in book: 372
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Propelled by the same superb instinct for storytelling that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love.
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul–they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.
A stunning accomplishment, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a haunting, heartbreaking, compelling story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (September). This book probably wasn’t something I would have picked up on my own but I’m very glad that I read it. I also thought it was interesting that I’ve never read books on this subject matter before but my other most recent read had a very similar story line and I couldn’t help but make parallels between the two novels. This book tells the story of two women: Miriam who grew up near Herat but moved to Kabul when she married, and Laila who grew up in Kabul and was born on the night of “the uprising.” These two women had very different childhoods. Miriam was a bastard child of a man who already had 3 wives, and she was raised out in a one room shack in the woods in order for the family to avoid being shamed. Laila was the third child of a couple in Kabul who ended up having to send their two first-born children (boys) to war, and while her father was doting her mother never recovered from having to send her boys off to war.
As Miriam and Laila journey through their lives in Kabul, regimes change hand again and again. Rules and restrictions are placed on the citizens of Afghanistan and women lose many basic rights and basically become prisoners in their own homes in many cases. Things are especially bad for women who are married to men like Rasheed, Miriam’s husband. Rasheed lays out rules with his fists and his belt, and when Miriam has one miscarriage after another, Rasheed wants even less to do with her. Miriam and Laila must both find their way in this world where they are treated as less, as if they are owned by their husbands and are not people on their own.
Overall I really liked this book a lot. There were a lot of interesting relationship dynamics between the characters and there were some unexpected twists thrown in there. Honestly I’m surprised I liked it so much considering how depressing it was. There was just so much violence in this book, and almost all of it was directed at women. This was a very powerful story though that really made me appreciate how lucky I am in life to not have to face such terror and heart-break. Both of these women were amazingly strong and I cannot imagine going through the things they experienced. Definitely an eye-opening novel and something I think everyone should read.

The bottom line: I really liked this book a lot. The subject matter was pretty depressing but overall it was a great novel.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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