August 31, 2017

Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini


A Thousand Splendid Suns

by Khaled Hosseini

Genres: Historical & Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Riverhead
Length: 372 pages
Published: May 22, 2007
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Audible
Note: Khaled Hosseini is also the best selling author of The Kite Runner, an equally amazing read. I have not yet read but look forward to reading his latest title, And the Mountains Echoed. If you've read that, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

My Goodreads Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Official Book Summary:

"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."

Quote: 

"I will follow you to the ends of the world."


Excerpt: (from Chapter One)

"Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami.

It happened on a Thursday. It must have, because Mariam remembered that she had been restless and preoccupied that day, the way she was only on Thursdays, the day when Jalil visited her at the kolba. To pass the time until the moment that she would see him at last, crossing the knee-high grass in the clearing and waving, Mariam had climbed a chair and taken down her mother's Chinese tea set. The tea set was the sole relic that Mariam's mother, Nana, had of her own mother, who had died when Nana was two. Nana cherished each blue-and-white porcelain piece, the graceful curve of the pot's spout, the hand-painted finches and chrysanthemums, the dragon on the sugar bowl, meant to ward off evil.

It was this last piece that slipped from Mariam's fingers, that fell to the wooden floorboards of the kolba and shattered."

My Book Review: 

A heartbreaking story of two generations of Afghanistan women whose lives become painfully intertwined.

Mariam is a character whose story you can't easily forget and without a doubt one of the most heartbreaking stories I've ever read. As a child she lives with her mother and is neglected by her father as her birth was the result of an affair. Though her father is a bigamist, her birth outside of a marriage relationship ostracizes both Mariam and her mother from the community. While she sees her father on rare occasions, Mariam feels desperate to spend more time with him and against her mother's wishes, travels to the city to his home. Her father refuses to allow her entrance and shuns her, leaving her alone overnight in the street. When one of her father's servants takes her home, Mariam discovers her mother has taken her life. Devastated and feeling a seeming burden to everyone around her, her father arranges a marriage to do away with her. Mariam's husband is not only a stranger, but much older and verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive.

A generation younger than Mariam, the novel next tells the tale of Laila, a young girl whose childhood is far happier as she's raised in a loving and warm home. When Mariam's husband takes a pregnant Laila as his second wife, the tension between the two women and the secrets they carry creates a dramatic, painful, and yet beautiful story of friendship between women fighting to survive.

Though the story is for a mature audience, I cannot recommend it enough. Its portrayal of the lives of women in Kabul is unforgettably powerful.

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