A Thousand Splendid Suns

Originally published 2010 on another site

Again, this one has been on my list for awhile, and the seniors my school read it this past year, so many of them were talking about it. After having the ending entirely ruined by one of them (I didn’t teach her, so I didn’t feel like I could properly chastise her for posting a spoiler) I kind of dreaded reading it because I hated knowing where the book was going. I was still really pleased with the book, despite having it told to me in advance.

Miriam is an illegitimate child growing up with her mother, barely managing to survive. Her weekly visits from her father mean the entire world to her. Miriam, in a fit of desperation, runs away from her mother, begs to live with her father, but he turns her away. Miriam returns to find her mother has hung herself, so now her father has no choice. At a young age, Miriam is married off to a much older man and is taken away from all she knows. This man does not treat Miriam well, forcing her to cook, clean, stay hidden in the house, and punishes her for small things. Needless to say, she’s miserable.

Down the road is a young girl named Laila. She’s beautiful, smart, and is loved by her neighbor boy Tariq. Her father is an educated man, but her brothers are at war, so her mother remains in a state of depression, no matter how much Laila tries to please her.

Miriam and Laila’s lives converge in an instant, and this is where the story truly began for me. I found it interesting that I would entirely forget that the story isn’t set in America. You just get so wrapped up in the story, that the setting becomes less important. Then at other times, you realize how desperate Afghanistan was for many, many years and the setting smacks you in the face again.

I have also read The Kite Runner, by the same author, and would easily recommend both of his books. **update- I’ve read all three of his books, now, and they are all amazing. **  They bring life to a part of the world that is only referred to negatively these days. He captures Afghanistan’s glory days, but juxtaposes them with war, drought, hunger, misery, and survival.

Beautiful stories, but heartbreaking as well.

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