The author of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini, has written a second novel A Thousand Splendid Suns focused around the lives of two women in Afghanistan.
If you have not had the chance to read Hosseini’s work I highly recommend that you do.
While The Kite Runner focused on the relationship between father and son, A Thousand Splendid Suns switches to relationships between mother and daughter.
Hosseini weaves together the stories of two women living in Kabul, Afghanistan. Mariam is an illegitimate child who faces a broken childhood and grows up to be given to a man named Rasheed for marriage. Laila is a child who lives across the street from Mariam and Rasheed. After a tragedy, Laila is taken in by Mariam and Rasheed as Rasheed’s second wife.
Although Laila does not want to marry Rasheed, her heart still belongs to her childhood friend Tariq, she knows it is the only way she will be able to survive.
Both women must face Rasheed, an older brutal man, as he reigns over their lives. The two women start off at odds with each other but come to realize the only way they will be able to remain sane in their unstable lives is if they can come together, creating a deep friendship tied to their shared pain.
Hosseini intertwines both women’s stories, by sharing their relationships with their mothers, the mother-daughter relationship between them, and the mother-daughter relationship each has with Laila’s daughter, Aziza. Hosseini also shows his knowledge of life in Afghanistan at the time; Mariam and Laila’s struggle to survive amidst difficult circumstances, and the reign of the Taliban, is thoughtfully worded.
This breathtaking story will open your eyes to a world unlike that of the United States. I found it amazing that the historical background of this story happened such a short time ago; this story effectively reveals the pain and trials that come with being a woman in Afghanistan. Mariam and Laila are unable to go out into the street, take a taxi, get a job, or receive health care, without a male accompanying them. Their husband Rasheed also demands that they not go out of the house without being completely covered.
Hosseini has created a passionate story with raw writing and description that will leave you rooting for Mariam and Laila. His ability to create a complex plot that tells of the need for friendship to survive and gives a glimpse of life in Afghanistan makes A Thousand Splendid Suns a must read.