A Thousand Splendid Suns is a four part story that revolves around two Afghan women: Mariam and Leila. As political events begin turning Afghanistan into a war zone and a place of fearful uncertainty, we see through these eyes of these two women of how all these things their daily lives. Mariam is a bastard child, sold off as an early bride to an old shoemaker. Leila is brought up to believe that there is worth in education for women. But when circumstance brings these two women together... perhaps both will find what they are looking for.
I thought the book was beautifully written. Just like The Kite Runner, Hosseini has a talent for letting us feel the emotions of all the characters. We smile when they are given a present, we hurt when they hurt, and we love them. It is really beautifully written. And the way Hosseini incorporates true events into this book just makes it deeper. More real.
But, like The Kite Runner, I find myself forgetting what actually happens in the book. Probably because ultimately this is a "slice of life" book and most of life is finding meaning in the mundane. It isn't big and showy action that carries us through this book, but the subtle emotions and the ways the characters react to the world and people around them.
One thing I have to mention is the amount of utter anger and frustration I kept feeling reading through this book. The amount of misogyny and double standards for women, their lack of freedom absolutely makes me furious. And that these women have to deal with it daily - argh ah I hate it. I hate it. That it's so easily incorporated into their lives, that the idea a man's accusing finger always points at a woman, it makes me so mad for these women and, as a woman, makes me so very, very grateful for the freedom I have right now. I wonder what male readers thought after reading this book.
The way the story ends, it is a very hopeful ending. But it doesn't resolve this issue of women's rights at all, and it frustrates me. Obviously Hosseini couldn't resolve it because it hasn't even been changed in the present world, but argh. How can we easily stand by when things like this happen?
Four stars because it was beautifully written and really makes a person think. I can't say that I liked it in the traditional sense because of how much churning frustration it made me feel. But any book that can open my eyes to bigger struggles and make me feel this amount of urgency is deserving of four stars, maybe even higher.
Highly recommended for everyone.