Trigger warning for domestic violence, rape, death of parents, miscarriage, traumatic birth, violence, death, suicide.
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a 2007 novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini. It is his second, following his bestselling 2003 debut, The Kite Runner. The book, which spans a period of over 40 years, from the 1960s to 2003, focuses on the tumultuous lives and relationship of Mariam and Laila, two Afghan women. Mariam, an illegitimate child, suffers from the stigma surrounding her birth and the abuse she faces throughout her marriage. Laila, born a generation later, is comparatively privileged during her youth until their lives intersect and she is also forced to accept a marriage proposal from Rasheed, Mariam’s husband.
This book broke my heart into multiple tiny pieces so many times. I don’t think a book has made me cry more than once before but this one made me cry three or four times. It is so beautiful and heartbreaking.
I wish it was one of those books that I could reassure myself by saying “It’s ok it’s not real”, but it is real this is based on actual events and for so many people these events affected them. It is harrowing, and the resilience of people is amazing.
In this book, Mariam and Leila, who are two Afghani women, during the wars.
What I really loved in this book was that parts 1 & 2 were solely for each woman. In part 1 we follow Mariam who is a harami, and an outcast. She lives outside of Herat with her mother, and her father comes to visit her once a week for a couple of hours. But when she asks her father for her fifteenth birthday to go to his cinema with her half-siblings he never shows up to pick her up. She walks to his house the next day but he doesn’t open the door for her, and when she returns she finds her mother hanging from a tree outside of their house.
When this happens, Mariam’s father has no choice but to take her in, however, she is an unwelcome guest to her father’s wives who are quick to marry her off to Rasheed a man who is 45 years old.
In part 2 we learn about Leila, we watch her as she grows from a young girl to a 16-year-old. It is clear how much her father loves her and teaches her everything she knows. Her mother, however, is in the depths of depression after both her sons leave to join the jihad army. Leila knows she will never live up to them in her mother’s mind.
Her best friend Tariq has always been by her side and as the war escalates so does their love for each other. The war becomes too much for Tariq’s family and they escape to Pakistan where they will be safe, leaving Leila and her family behind. The war is getting worse and a lot closer to home, when Leila’s parents finally decide to leave disaster strikes and leaves Leila an orphan, this gives her no choice but to marry the first man who offers, Rasheed.
Hosseini is such a beautiful way with words, I could see everything that was happening and with such clarity. He has a way of really reaching into your soul. There were times when I felt like I had to put the book down because it was getting to be too much for me, but then I couldn’t because I needed to know what was going to happen.
These two women, who started off as enemies became like mother and daughter to each other. Looking after each other, protecting each other.
I loved both Mariam and Leila in their own individual ways, they are so different and grew up so differently from each other, Leila is loud doesn’t take any shit from anyone, especially when it comes to her children, whereas Mariam is more timid but motherly.
One thing that bothered me was how Zalmai started to act like Rasheed, but that has nothing to do with the book, it happens, children pick up their parents behaviour and it was really upsetting me watching him have his temper tantrums. Aziza on the other hand was so mature and calm.
This is such a beutiful book and I highly recommend this.