A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
In case you have never been in a Barnes & Noble in your life, A Thousand Splendid Suns is the second novel of Khaled Hosseini, the guy that wrote The Kite Runner. The Kite Runner was a tale of Afghanistan told from a boy’s point of view. This was told from the perspectives of two women.
The very beginning has a girl named Mariam, born out of wedlock, living in a hut with her mother. The father, a wealthy man with three wives in the neighboring town, comes to visit once a week. Mother dies, father marries her off to some much older stranger in Kabul. Can you guess what happens next?
Yeah. Abusive bastard.
You know… there is hitting. And then there is beating. And then there is making up new ways to torture people. Put that against the backdrop of not the United States and it is even more terrifying. I must say that I nearly gave up on this one just because of the ugliness.
The story unfolds into the tale of two women. Mariam, the elder, was never able to have children. She quietly accepted her life, even as she knew that life had not been good to her. Laila, the younger, was raised in a loving home, even if her mother was crazy. Mariam had never really known what it is to love and be loved, whereas Laila knew everything about it and had lost. They were married to the same bastard.
The idea, I suppose, is how we connect with other people when all else is Hell.
The first half of the book, the set up, was engaging. The second half was riveting. In a “I can see how this would look on the big screen and I must know what happens next” way. I didn’t see the plot twist coming, but once it was there, I was pretty sure I knew where it was going.
You sort of see Afghan history floating by, but it doesn’t quite sink in. I was finding that disappointing, but I think that was the point..women were stuck in their own homes and their only connection to the outside world was through their male relatives. The story is told through that lens. It gives new meaning to “perspective”. And seriously, that is why I read so damn many books in the first place.