Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Genre: General fiction (historical slant)
Publisher, Year: Riverhead, 2007
Other Works: The Kite Runner
Flags: Adult themes, tenuous references
Rating: A+ or Must Read Now!
Challenge: Countdown, Library
Premise: Two Afghan women a generation apart find their paths converge in war-torn Kabul. Together they find strength to face the cruelty of unjust government.

I loved The Kite Runner when I read it a few years ago, although I regret to say for which I have never written a review. I would have thought it difficult to follow up such a book with another of equal significanc--but it seems an easy task for Hosseini. This book usurped my attention for about a day and half. Yes, folks, that’s how long it took me to read A Thousand Splendid Suns simply because I could not, I did in fact lose my ability to, put this book down. Besides eating and sleeping, I could think of nothing else. Don’t start reading this beauty until you’ve got the time to devote your full attention, well, unless you are a masochist, because I promise you, once you start, it will take an enormous amount of self restraint to stop. (Indeed, I found it impossible.)

Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man. Because of the shame of her birth, she is hidden away with her mother, who had been a maid in his house, in a small shack in the hills. She dreams of living with a big family and of going to school with her brothers and sisters who she will never get to know. +/-
One day, she gets the nerve to visit her father at his rich estate. Mariam could not imagine how one simple act would change the course of her life forever. Laila is an unique girl, marked for beauty by her unusually light hair and her quick and clever intelligence. She has a bright future and people who love her, although her life is not without its sorrows. But, when war comes and the turbulence of a country in chaos takes its toll, Laila will find herself in an impossible situation, with only one choice ahea--one that will take everything she has to give, and more.

This story is one about courage. The courage of women at a desperate and hopeless time. This book has enlightened me with an entirely new understanding of the word oppression. Ruled over by tyrannical husbands and then by an even more strict Taliban, the courage and endurance of the women of Afghanistan are portrayed through Mariam and Laila, two of the strongest characters I believe I have ever read.

War--it seems there are so many books written based on that topic. It is infuriating to read how the power of a few can wreak the utter destruction of so many. It seems so petty, so juvenile--like a few kindergarteners fighting over the blue crayon or who gets to be first in line at the drinking fountain. But, I have to say, whatever gross crimes were inflicted--and they were just that, not to be marginalized--they paled in comparison with what the Taliban can do. The Taliban took that Little Rascals saying, “Boys rule and girls drool,” to whole new heights. Heights I didn’t even deem possible--that such things could happen, it’s just beyond me.

Incredible, incredible book and not one to be missed. What a beautiful tribute Hosseini has paid with this work. Every paragraph testifies of the author’s respect and devotion toward his chosen subject. In such a time, in the face of all that they were made to bear, these women survived. They found a way to weather the endless night, until the sunrise--until a thousand splendid suns could warm them and bring light to their lives again.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Must read now? Okay--I'll find it and get on it right away; I've been needing a push to pull it out!