“A Thousand Splendid Suns”, by Khaled Hosseini

Overall Rating: 4.5.5

Read it, or save your time?  A visually rich narrative that carefully and heartbreakingly depicts the hardships endured by women living in a strict muslim culture, a nation in turmoil, and the lengths people will go to save the ones they love.

What’s it about? 1970’s-1990’s:  Afghanistan is invaded by Russia, the Taliban comes to power, Shariah Law is imposed, a drought affects food production.  The nation is literally and figuratively ripped apart, and through two fictional characters, Hassan shows how the everyday lives of its citizens are affected.

Miriam is the illegitimate and unrecognized daughter of a wealthy man living in a mud hut with her mentally unstable mother.  At age fifteen, she becomes the first wife of Rasheed, a Kabul merchant.   Contrastingly, Laila is the beloved daughter of an educated and liberal father, but after war permanently alters their lives, she is also married against her will to the cruel Rasheed.  Although from contrasting backgrounds and generations, both are subjected to their husband’s abuse and oppression, and become bonded by an ironclad will to simply survive and love.

Reviewer’s Note: Hassan’s first novel, The Kite Runner, was excellent and on the New York Times Bestseller List for 103 weeks, but A Thousand Splendid Suns somehow manages to surpass it, making it the lesser-known but superior read.

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