Jun 10, 2008

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

I don't quite know where to start with this one. Obviously, its a fantastic book with a heart-wrenching story of friendship, family and love. Khaled Hosseini is turning out to be one of my favorite authors. One reason is that he can create an incredible story of two women that is classified as fiction, but we all know there are thousands of Mariams and Lailas in Afghanistan who have lived lives very similar to these characters. And through his writing he captures our attention, gives us a connection to them and makes us want to keep reading. When I first started reading A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS, I made the comment that I didn't like it as well as THE KITE RUNNER. Next time I won't make that assumption until I've read the entire book. Looking back, perhaps it wasn't that I felt I didn't like it as much, but more likely it was the content that bothered me. Being a woman living in a free country, the treatment of these two women by Afghan men and most especially, their husband was extremely disturbing to me. I didn't want to believe that severe physical and mental abuse and oppression still exists in the world today. Its a beautifully written book with a story that can't help but pull at your heart. So yes, I did like it as much as THE KITE RUNNER. I just have to separate my two feelings about the book and the reality of the brutal treatment of women in the name of Allah that is real even today in the Muslim culture.

The story of how Mariam and Laila's lives became entangled together is a journey into survival of everyday life during civil wars in Afghanistan. The relationship starts out as anything but friendly, being pitted against each other by their shared husband. But eventually they are able to see that they don't have to fear each other. In fact, they can be allies and make the best out of a terrible situation and try to bring some happiness into their miserable lives. Their relationship begins to evolve into something neither of them expected, but they both needed desperately. Simply by changing their views of each other it made a huge impact on their lives. It became two against one instead of each fending for themselves putting Rasheed, their husband, at a disadvantage. Hence, his manipulation of them grew more intense and cruel.

This story of friendship and love is beautifully woven into the simultaneous ugly madness of civil unrest happening around them. The brutality of war is as shocking as the love story is heart-wrenching. I found myself in tears many times and had to take moments to let it sink in before reading on. You can't help but feel deeply for the characters of this book. Not to mention the real people of Afghanistan. Some of whom are still living as refugees in neighboring countries after fleeing their homeland out of fear.

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS is an amazing book that brings a great fictional story together with real current events that affect our world today. I will be recommending this book to anyone who will listen.


  1. Thanks for the great review. I think I would really enjoy reading it. There are so many situations of abuse being played out in books these days. I appreciate the author's ability to write about it in fiction form. One book I just finished, One Foot in the Black, was a very touching story about a young man overcoming an abusive father as well as surmounting other challenges.

  2. Melissa - thanks for visiting my blog and for the comment. I'm sure you'll enjoy this book. It will stay with you for days afterward. Thanks for the recommendation of ONE FOOT IN THE BLACK. Its sounds like a great read - one that I would enjoy. :)

  3. excellent review, I've wanted to read this one for a while now.


  4. Ooh, I really want to read this one!


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