A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Book Description:
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is superbly written, has a page-turning story, and will help you learn more about Afghanistan. In his follow up novel to The Kite Runner, Hosseini has once again created a heartbreaking masterpiece that connects readers with life in Afghanistan over the past several decades and highlights the common hopes, dreams and struggles that make us human.

It starts with the story of Mariam, a young girl who lives on the edge of Herat with her mother. Mariam was born out of wedlock, and the first part of the novel follows her as she grows into a woman. The second part of the novel shifts to the story of Laila, a 9-year-old girl who lives near Mariam. Although both girls' stories are interesting, it was not clear during my first reading how they connected or where the novel was going.

In Part III, Mariam and Laila's stories converge. This is where the novel really takes off and becomes hard to put down. For those readers who read The Kite Runner and are afraid during the first part of the novel that A Thousand Splendid Suns will never pick up the momentum of Hosseini's debut work, fear not. It will all come together, and you will appreciate the time Hosseini spent developing the characters in the first hundred pages or so.

A Thousand Splendid Suns starts in the 1960s and ends in 2003. One of the things I liked most about the novel was the personal view it gave into Afghanistan's history. Regime change, war, hope, and oppression are the backdrop of the novel. Laila and Mariam's stories provided a powerful glimpse into life under Soviet occupation, then under warlords, and finally under the Taliban.

Overall, I highly recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns. Hosseini has written another page turner that moves quickly despite how difficult it is to internalize the sad and violent content that runs throughout the book. This is not light reading, but it is very good reading.


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