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: