bkwrm, August 21, 2010 (view all comments by bkwrm)
I was told to skip this book. I am glad I didn't listen. I had tears streaming down my face as I finished reading the book.
I love to get insight into another country and it's rich history while at the same time being in the personal world of people
living their lives amidst the turmoil. The characters are real and their lives are endlessly painful but it is an absorbing and
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soapboxinmymind, August 9, 2010 (view all comments by soapboxinmymind)
A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini, is a tale of two women whose lives intersect, then intertwine during a very volatile time in Afghanistan. In the forefront, two women, Mariam and Laila, grow up separately under different circumstances, but end up sharing a husband and their lives. The landscape of this tale is an ever-changing and politically manhandled Afghanistan. The horrors are atrocious, the love is deep and meaningful, and the loyalty is eternal.
This book was extremely moving. The English language mixed with the occasional Farsi was done without interruption to the story. It added to the tone and feel of the book. The story was detailed, yet simply written. I really sympathised with the characters, or hated them, depending. I cringed during many of the atrocities. But the ending was filled with hope and a kind of redemption that leaves the reader satisfied.
On a scale of 1-4 I give this book a 4. I loved it. Though I probably won't re-read this book, I will highly recommend it.
This book was published by Riverhead Books (a division of Penguin Books)
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Double-N-Jenn, May 3, 2010 (view all comments by Double-N-Jenn)
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini gives you a completely different perspective on the country of Afghanistan and allows you to see the Middle Eastern culture with new eyes. The novel highlights the nation’s bloody past and the struggle of women against suppression through the stories of Laila and Mariam. Hosseini writes the book as a way to present to the reader a different Afghanistan that is hard to see in today’s society. The book has an excellent plot with an involving story that is gruesome yet necessary to convey the pain and suffering of the country and its people.
Mariam is the daughter of Jalil and Nana and was born a harami, a bastard child. Until the age of 15 she grows up loving her father and looking forward to every moment with him. However, when she finally leaves her Kulba to see him in Herat, she realizes that she is not accepted because of her status as a bastard child. After her mother’s death, she is placed in Jalil’s custody. Jalil, ashamed of having a harami child, forces Mariam to marry a brutish man named Rasheed in order to distance himself from her. Rasheed lives many miles away in Kabul and although he is kind to Mariam at first, he quickly turns on her when she can not give him a son. The violent clash between Rasheed and Mariam continues throughout the novel.
Laila also joins this struggle when she is made to marry Rasheed for the sake of her unborn child. However, her beginnings are very different from Mariam’s. Laila is raised by a supportive father who promotes her education and states, “you can be anything you want, Laila” (103). Although her mother doesn’t pay her much attention, she finds comfort in her friend Tariq, who ends up being her lover. Laila is surrounded by the tragedies of war. It takes her friend Giti, her parents, and forces Tariq and his family to move to Pakistan. After her parents’ death, she is forced to marry Rasheed in order to preserve the life of her and Tariq’s unborn child. This marriage, Laila states is a sacrifice that she had to make as a mother, “Laila already saw the sacrifices a mother had to make. Virtue was only the first” (196). Laila made this sacrifice knowing that she could not survive on her own and without male support.
One of the main themes of the novel is the suppression of women. The restriction of women is noted by the use of the burqa as both a symbol of suppression and a symbol of protection against the outside world. Although this symbol is usually only used to show restraint, Hosseini takes a different perspective on it. “And the burqa, she learned to her surprise, was also comforting. It was like a one-way window. Inside it, she was an observer…she no longer worried that people new…all the shameful secrets of her past” (66). Hosseini makes the people, the Taliban and Rasheed, the suppressors of the women, not the culture of the country. The country and the women seem to follow a paralleled plot of struggle. With every change in power come different restrictions or freedoms for women and more or less destruction of the country. Hosseini vividly describes the sound of the bombs and the horrible deaths caused by war that destroy the nation.
The images of war created by Hosseini are gruesome and violent and, combined with sex and harsh physical abuse, should limit this book for mature audiences. However, these elements also allow for a vivid picture of the tragedy of war that shadows the country of Afghanistan. Although the images of war and abuse created by Hosseini are quite brutal, they are not over exaggerated and therefore create an accurate perception of abuse and the war. However, the novel also provides another side to Afghanistan, the one that is filled with beauty and decent people. This side is usually unseen by society and not covered by the media. Hosseini’s use of imagery is profound in his description of the country. Hosseini seeks to make the Middle East and western society closer by creating these images of a different Afghanistan. Hosseini also attempts to close the distance of western and Middle Eastern societies by showing the similarities between the conflicting major religions. Many of the ideas from the Koran expressed in the novel are also in the Christian Bible.
The novel best portrays these ideas by Hosseini’s skillful writing. His use of imagery and tone produce involving characters for the reader to connect to. His detailed descriptions of the characters help to create the tone of the novel that allows the reader to feel with the characters. This ability to connect the readers to the characters allows readers to be more involved in the plot of the book. Hosseini’s use of foreshadow also contributes to the novel’s exciting plot. By foreshadowing certain events, the writer creates apprehension in the novel that keeps the reader guessing and anticipating the plot’s development.
Hosseini’s talent is prominently seen in A Thousand Splendid Suns and is a book worth reading. I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who don’t know the true Afghanistan or truly understand the nation’s struggle. This book will open your eyes to a culture that the media doesn’t show through a very involving story of love, life, death, and sorrow. Prepare for a book that you can’t put down.
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Floridabookgirl, January 16, 2010 (view all comments by Floridabookgirl)
I loved this book so much. I cried reading the last few chapters. So many amazing, strong women in this book. It is such a powerful story about the strength of women and what women have to endure. It was also a great political statement about the effects of war and extreme religion on women and children. I fell in love with all the women in the book. Beautifully written.
HavasuBabyGirl, September 15, 2009 (view all comments by HavasuBabyGirl)
This is a story about Mariam, an Afghan girl that is brought up by her mother with her father living with his other wives and children a while away. Mariam soon decides to go live with her dad, only to be brought to her attention that she is so marry an older shoe maker named, Rasheed. He is the type of man that believes that a woman belongs to only her husband and that they have the power to punish them however they want. She grows up cleaning his house and feeding him to his satisfaction. If not, she receives serious punishments.
Laila is brought up to follow her dreams from her intellectual father. She grows up with a normal happy life and with a young man, Tariq, which she is falling in love with. But when war hits, he is forced to leave the city with his parents and leave Laila behind. Laila’s parents soon think it over and decide to leave the city, too. They start packing, and almost finish when a bomb hits their house and leaves Laila alone with blown up parents. She herself gets hurt, but not that extremely.
Rasheed lets Laila recover in his house, forcing Mariam to help her get to good health. When she gets better she helps Mariam around the house, or at least tries to. But soon after learning she is pregnant with Tariq’s baby, and that he has “died”, Laila agrees to marry Rasheed. She begins her new life doing what Mariam is forced to do. Laila and Mariam don’t hit it off right away, but after the birth of Laila’s first child, Aziza, they begin to get along. After that, it is all about friendship, war and love, and how far you are willing to go to keep it.
I really enjoyed this book. I thought that this was a great way to learn about Afghanistan and their culture without actually researching it. It explained in great detail what women have to go through from men and how far some of them actually go to protect themselves. I thought that this book was partly to show what others have to go through, and compare it to your life and see how much better it is. And even those people that have to live in it, find something to cherish in life and still have the will to keep going.“Like a compass needle that always points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.”
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Never mind the sophomore slump — this book devours that cliché. As well as illuminating the rich history and familial culture behind war-torn Afghanistan, A Thousand Splendid Suns is filled with authentic relationships and characters that are absolutely haunting.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Afghan-American novelist Hosseini follows up his bestselling The Kite Runner with another searing epic of Afghanistan in turmoil. The story covers three decades of anti-Soviet jihad, civil war and Taliban tyranny through the lives of two women. Mariam is the scorned illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, forced at age 15 into marrying the 40-year-old Rasheed, who grows increasingly brutal as she fails to produce a child. Eighteen later, Rasheed takes another wife, 14-year-old Laila, a smart and spirited girl whose only other options, after her parents are killed by rocket fire, are prostitution or starvation. Against a backdrop of unending war, Mariam and Laila become allies in an asymmetrical battle with Rasheed, whose violent misogyny — 'There was no cursing, no screaming, no pleading, no surprised yelps, only the systematic business of beating and being beaten' — is endorsed by custom and law. Hosseini gives a forceful but nuanced portrait of a patriarchal despotism where women are agonizingly dependent on fathers, husbands and especially sons, the bearing of male children being their sole path to social status. His tale is a powerful, harrowing depiction of Afghanistan, but also a lyrical evocation of the lives and enduring hopes of its resilient characters." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day"
by Yvonne Zipp, Christian Science Monitor,
"If A Thousand Splendid Suns is a little shaky as a work of literature, at least a reader feels that Hosseini has more at stake than where the book ends up on the bestseller list." (read the entire CSM review)
"Review A Day"
by Peter Martin, Esquire,
"It's not that emotionally hardened (or what could fairly be called 'regular') men won't like this book. They just won't want to....This would be as painful as it sounds if it weren't for Hosseini's incredible storytelling. As it is, you can't help but be invested in the lives of these characters..." (read the entire Esquire review)
by Booklist (Starred Review),
"Unimaginably tragic, Hosseini's magnificent second novel is a sad and beautiful testament to both Afghani suffering and strength. Readers who lost themselves in The Kite Runner will not want to miss this unforgettable follow up."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Hosseini barrels through each grim development unflinchingly, seeking illumination. Another artistic triumph, and surefire bestseller, for this fearless writer."
by USA Today,
"[A] second novel as spectacular as Khaled Hosseini's mega-selling The Kite Runner, [that] could be the runaway hit of 2007....Hosseini tells this saddest of stories in achingly beautiful prose through stunningly heroic characters whose spirits somehow grasp the dimmest rays of hope."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"Hosseini's bewitching narrative captures the intimate details of life in a world where it's a struggle to survive, skillfully inserting this human story into the larger backdrop of recent history."
by Los Angeles Times,
"What keep this novel vivid and compelling are Hosseini's eye for the textures of daily life and his ability to portray a full range of human emotions, from the smoldering rage of an abused wife to the early flutters of maternal love when a woman discovers she is carrying a baby."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"While Afghanistan has virtually disappeared from the headlines...A Thousand Splendid Suns offers all the crowd-pleasing appeal of his debut, with some star-crossed lovers thrown in for good measure. (Grade: B+)"
by Chicago Sun-Times,
"The violence is as graphic as you would expect in any book that details the atrocities of war....A Thousand Splendid Suns will tear at your heart and make you better understand the legacy of violence our soldiers are fighting against in Afghanistan."
by The Associated Press,
"[E]xceeds every expectation. This tough-to-put-down book leaves even a jaded reader crying, wincing and gasping at Laila and Mariam's agony — and triumphing at their fleeting happiness. If anything, Splendid Suns is more visceral and heart-wrenching than Kite Runner."
This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Nailas fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?
Nailas conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Nailas vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before its too late.
After 103 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and with four million copies of The Kite Runner shipped, Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel that confirms his place as one of the most important literary writers today.
Propelled by the same superb instinct for storytelling that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love.
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul--they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman's love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.
A stunning accomplishment, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a haunting, heartbreaking, compelling story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love.
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