Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Tessa Bright Wildsmith
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Tessa Bright Wildsmith writes the weekly book review Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading. When she's not designing advertising and page layouts for Blount Today, she's reading. She loves books of all kinds, but mostly fiction. Some of her favorite authors are Chuck Palahniuk, Kelly Armstrong, Andre Dubus III and Sarah Waters. Feel free to email her any suggestions you have for a great book.

I don’t know that I would have ever picked up “A Thousand Splendid Suns” if someone hadn’t raved about it and said that I had to read it. I’m so glad that they did.

The story covers 30-something years of life in violent war-torn Afghanistan. The story dives deep into women’s issues in the country before, and after, the Taliban take charge. Life is hard for everyone, but especially hard for women. “A Thousand Splendid Suns” gave me a glimpse into the years of suffering and mistreatment of Afghan women.

We first meet Mariam as a young girl, living ostracized with her mother in an Afghan village. Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy business man. After Mariam’s mother kills herself, and her father is too ashamed to take her in, she is forced to marry a much older man, Rasheed. Rasheed is brutal and angry. His violence and hatred for Mariam only increases after she fails to give him a child. Her life is reduced to one of fear and violence on a daily basis.

Next we meet Laila, a bright young girl from a loving home. We get a glimpse of the good life Laila has before it is suddenly torn away when a bomb lands in her home, killing both her father and mother. Her closest friend, Tariq, has just fled the war-torn country with his family, and Laila finds herself alone with only two options - starvation or prostitution. With no where to go and no one to help, Laila reluctantly marries the violent Rasheed.

With the backdrop of an ever increasing war, Mariam and Laila become friends and allies. They have only each other to turn to for comfort after the daily beatings and torture from Rasheed, whose cruelty is endorsed and accepted by Afghan custom and law.

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” captures not only the bloody, violent past of Afghanistan, but also the mistreatment of women in radical conservative Islamic societies. For Mariam and Laila, it’s a daily struggle to stay alive living with a horrible man in an unforgiving, intolerant society.

Hosseini does not spare us any details of the violence or cruelty these two women endure. At the same time though, he tells a powerful story of hope and resilience.

I was filled with a range of emotions while reading - from despair and heartache to anger and hope. The storyline was meticulously put together, and the characters were real and fascinating.

If you know of someone who loves to read, especially a woman, and don’t know what to get them for Christmas, I highly recommend this book. I bought it for several people last year. I wanted to share this story with as many people as I could.

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” is a beautiful story of love, and how it can overcome almost anything.

Have you read “A Thousand Splendid Suns?” Discuss your thoughts on the book below.

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