Book: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Genre: Fiction, Drama
Synopsis: Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry the troubled and bitter Rasheeed, who is double her age. Their marriage takes an extremely difficult turn when she is unable to carry more than one pregnancy to full-term. Almost twenty years later, in an environment filled with war and political unrest, fifteen year old Laila, suffers a tragedy that has her losing her entire family and finding herself as Rasheed’s second wife. She soon becomes part of the miserable household and after having to put their differences aside, Laila and Mariam find strength and comfort in each other, developing a strong sisterly bond. Their endurance is continuously tested by their marriage to a vile man and living in a state ruled by the Taliban. Together they are able to overcome most obstacles and a significant act of love and self sacrifice sees to it that love and a happy ending triumphs over the death and destruction around them.
If you are an avid book reader, this book title is not new to you. Perhaps you have not gotten around to read the book yet but I am certain you have heard about it in one way or another.
When I first read this book, I was just done with high school. I remember feeling very devastated at the story line and eventually, the ending of this book. I was moved to tears and I remember skipping through a couple of pages that I was not too keen on reading the painful details of the characters’ experiences. A few months later, I was online checking comments and reviews about this book and the common feel among readers was that this book is sad and heartbreaking. I agreed with them completely.
Fast forward to today, I decided to have a reread of this book. What I came to realize is that while yes, the book is sad, that’s not the only thing about it. It is thought-provoking and informative as well. Khaled explores touchy themes using his words. Some of these themes include : warfare, women’s education, oppression and violence, women’s rights, political agenda, poverty and so on. Things you have never put into consideration while living your day to day life is brought right to you. I couldn’t help but wonder, “How would I have coped if I was Mariam/ Laila ?”. As a woman, this question will resonate in your mind throughout your read of this book.
The reason I gave this book such a high rating is because it is written in a very simplistic manner while conveying a story line filled with heavy emotion. It is a book that’s guaranteed to leave you satisfied at the end of it (all be it heartbroken) and at the same time, your mind will have been opened to so much more. Given that the fictional characters also portray what is an actual reality to some people in the world, the story will truly resonate with you! I hope you enjoy it.
“Learn this and learn it well, my daughter : Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. You remember that, Mariam.”
“I know you’re still young but I want you to understand and learn this now. Marriage can wait, education cannot. You’re a very very bright girl. Truly you are. You can be anything you want Laila. I know this about you. And I also know that when this war is over Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men maybe even more. Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated Laila. No chance.”
Cover image courtesy of Markus Winkler.