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A Thousand Splendid Suns

From goodreads:

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan's last thirty years, from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding, that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives, the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness, are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Pages: 367 (hardcover)

Rating: 7 out of 10

Source: Checked out from the library

I needed a story that could sweep me away and I had heard good things about  A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.  While the book was a good escape from work, I still found myself thinking hard about the role of women in society and the lack of power many women have in their lives.  I found myself wishing for a book set in Afghanistan and/or with Muslim women in which the women are empowered and successful in their challenges of the status quo (such as in The Geometry of God by Uzsma Aslam Khan).  I enjoyed the relationship between the two female characters. 

To me, Miriam's journey was about trying to create genuine relationships.  I found my heart breaking for her when she realized her father was ashamed of her and that her husband was a jerk.  I wanted to give her resources and ideas for a better life.  When her husband confessed that he was taking a second wife, I felt Miriam's humiliation.  I loved how she managed to create a relationship with Laila and Laila's children. 

I found Laila's story depressing and inspiring. Even though her father wanted her to have an education, his aspirations for her were not realized when she ended up in an abusive marriage.  I think that her relationship with her father and her role in her nuclear family gave her strength and hope that there was more out there than what existed in the space she shared with her abusive husband. Through all the abuse, I was impressed that she still had a good connection with her daughter and son.  I also loved her relationship with Tariq.  Maybe the author intended for their relationship to represent the beginning of a new era, one in which marriages are partnerships.

Finally, I appreciated that Laila carried on the legacy of her family and Miriam by creating something new.  I was touched by a scene at the end when Laila was teaching children at the orphanage. Even after such misery, she returned to her home land to help rebuild.

I am counting the book for the following challenges:

Posted on Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 11:49AM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | Comments4 Comments

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Reader Comments (4)

I think it is impossible to read this book and not think about your own position as a woman. For me, it is always humbling to read a novel like this. I am reminded how I have choices, and that for so many women in the world, those choices are non-existent. This is something we all know - but when you become involved in someone's story, like in this novel, the point is really hammered home.
Thank you for your review...
November 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPackabook
Suzi: Yes, having choices is truly a gift. The book does hammer the point home. I want to read more books set in the middle east where women are creating new options for themselves in the midst of tough circumstances. Looking forward to next month's read.
November 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbeastmomma
I had similar feelings about the two women. I also agree with what you said in response to my review about the ending being too tidy. I, too, would love to read more about Afghan women being empowered!

Have you read Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez? She's an American who ends up founding a beauty school in Kabul. It's a lot about her side of things, but you do get to meet some Afghan women who come to the school. It might interest you.
November 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErin
Erin-- thanks for the recommendation. I had heard about the Kabul Beauty School, but never picked it up.
November 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbeastmomma

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