Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Summary: A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan's last thirty years, from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding, that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives, the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness, are inextricable from the history playing out around them.
Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heartwrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love, a stunning accomplishment.
Kim's Review: My grandma loaned me this book, telling me that I absolutely had to read it. To be honest, I wasn't that excited about it, because, you know, Grandma books. However, I still took the book because I didn't want to disappoint her.

Emotionally speaking, this is a very heavy book. In a 380-page book, I can't name more than one or two light-hearted moments. But the story is truly inspiring. The two main characters are Mariam and Laila. Mariam is about 20 years older than Laila, and both are forced to marry a man named Rasheed, who is significantly older than both of them. He is physically and emotionally abusive to them, favoring Laila but criticizing them for every little mistake. The violent descriptions Hosseini uses are horrifying. I wanted to slap/yell at/punch Rasheed so badly!

Mariam and Laila are such inspiring characters. Their emotions and thoughts are captured so perfectly, it is almost hard to believe that this book was written by a man. These two women are also incredibly strong and independent. The things they did to protect those they care about were captivating and kept me wanting to read more. I have no idea what I'd have done if I were in their position; I certainly would not have the bravery and willpower to even attempt what they did. It was really nice to see two fine examples of strong, female main characters in a novel. 

I am giving this book four stars. The one missing star is due to the fact that a few important parts of the plot seemed rushed, and a few quirks in the writing annoyed me. But those are basically the only flaws I were able to find in this book, and they're clearly outweighed by the pros. Since I normally review YA books, I should stress that this is an adult book - there are multiple vivid, violent scenes that made me squirm in my seat. The story is powerful, though, and you're constantly begging to know what will happen next. I would recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns to anyone who is able to stomach a few gut-wrenching scenes to follow the journey of two powerful, inspiring women.

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