Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

ISBN: 9781594483851
Publisher: Penguin Group [USA] Inc.
Release date: May, 2007
Series: No - Stand alone
Page count: 372 pages

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.

  • The writing was absolutely beautiful, believable, gripping, wonderful.
  • I liked how Hosseini consistently uses Farsi in his writing. I'm pretty sure I know a few words now just from reading this book.
  • The backstory of Afghanistan's history provided a very clear lesson for someone like me who only knows the history as far back as the Taliban goes. Its easy to lump all those of middle eastern descent together until you learn more about them - and something tells me this novel only skims the top.
  • Its very easy to take your life for granted. Reading a story like this, though it is fictional, you realize that people really do live like this. Its heartbreaking and inspriring at the same time. I dont think I will ever feel right complaining about my boyfriend/husband not listening to me anymore.
  • It had a sort-of happy ending. This book did not have very much to be happy about, trust me. I was angry and cried very many times, but at the very least, Hosseini gave me an ending that was believably sad yet happy enough to make me want to cry tears of joy at the same time.

  • So many years were skipped over at a time in some parts of the book. I know - imagine how long this book would be if they told me everything that happened - but I feel like so much of Mariam was missing, so much of what made her who she was.
  • Some of it was just so awful. It truly depressed me - to the point that I had nightmares! (Okay, I had a dream I had to marry someone I didnt want to - like Mariam - and I woke up almost in tears). I know that the message of the book couldnt truly be understood without the hardships these women endured but... come on Mr. Hosseini. Give me a break!

This was a wonderful tragic tale of endurance, hope through unimaginable darkness, finding love and making sacrifices.  I cant even imagine half of the things the characters in this book went through. Can. Not. Imagine.

A Thousand Splendid Suns also is a huge history lesson. I feel so enlightened after reading this book. Its so easy, being from America, to be ignorant of the Middle East other than the fact that some majorly awful things happened caused by people from there. But they are people too, who endure things we couldnt even begin to imagine.

One thing I found interesting about this book is how it includes a scene where Laila and Tariq see on TV that the World Trade Center had been hit and President Bush declared war on Afghanistan. I am from New York. Some of my family worked very close to the Towers and saw people jumping from to their deaths from the building. My father was stranded in Manhattan unable to contact us for hours after the towers fell. Thank God I didn't lose anyone in the attacks but many did and  New York City still mourns its losses. I remember it all vividly, and as I was reading this book, I was a little nervous as it got closer and closer to  September 2001, wondering if and how he would mention this horrible event that was so close to home for me. I couldnt help but wonder if he would skim over it or say horrible things that would piss me off. For the most part, it was skimmed over. I was almost mad.... and then I continued reading and realized that it was portrayed the way that it was for most people in the Middle East. Seeing it on TV and shrugging sadly, knowing that so many people lost their lives,  then moving on. I think we as Americans discriminate, some people call people of middle eastern descent "terrorists" and hate these people for something they didnt do.

Okay, let me get off my soap box. What I'm getting at is that I am happy with the way this, and other Afghan history, was depicted in this book in a way that was respectful to such a sensitive subject and truthfully portrayed the other side.

So aside from my depressing rant there, I loved this book and it was so well written, so enlightening, inspiring... This is my first Khaled Hosseini novel, but I cant wait to read The Kite Runner and And the Mountains Echoed!

     RATING: ★★★★
I enjoyed this one so much. It fell a little short of the five star mark but I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in Afghanistan's history or literary fiction. Great read!

Have any of you read this one yet? What did you think? Do you agree or disagree with my opinion?


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