Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

I almost didn’t write this post. There is a reason why I have been avoiding book reviews all this time. Someone has spent a whole lot of time, made sacrifices and poured their dreams and hopes into writing a book. They have invested their lives into creating something. With a review I cannot, simply cannot do justice to a writer, that he is due. My words dwarf in comparison to the efforts that have gone into the making of a book. I have read this book many times before, but to be able to do justice, I had to take time to read the book over again.

Books are my best friends. I began reading novels at the age of nine. The first book I ever received as a gift was “The Wizard of Oz”. It lay around for months, untouched, simply because I was ignorant of the joy it would bring. Then one day, short of anything else to do, and wanting to kill time simply because I was bored, I picked it up and began reading. At first it was just a cursory glance, which led into me lying on my bed and devouring the entire book in a single day. Thus began my love affair with the written word.

I had read “The Kite Runner” before this book and suffice it to say I was deeply moved by Mr. Khaled Hosseini’s extraordinary sensitivity in his book.

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It was this sensitivity that led me to picking up his second book, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and no matter how many times I have read this book, it always brings tears to my eyes.

The book is a poignant tale of two women, generations and cultures apart, brought together by a twist of fate. Mariam, the unwanted and unwelcome child of a lowly villager and a wealthy businessman, finds herself the victim of fate and has to get married to a man three decades her senior, against her own will. Thus begins a life of hardships and torture.

Laila, a girl born to a more open upbringing finds herself joining the sad miserable household of Mariam, due to a tragedy that takes the lives of both her parents. A relationship which begins with resentment soon develops into a bond stronger than anything they have ever known.

When the Taliban rule engulfs the country into one of a seething, and perverse brutality, the women find themselves struggling against a desperate fight for survival. In a world of unimaginable torture their endurance is pushed to the limits.

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Mr. Hosseini strikes a chord in the heart of the reader. He writes sincerely, and with each word the reader finds themselves getting more and more involved into the life of the central character. The reader feels the pain, the agony of betrayal, the excitement of an impending joy and the hopelessness of tragedy.

The characters are well etched, as is the scenario of Herat and Kabul where the story unfolds. Through Mr. Hosseini’s words, you are transported to a beautiful country racked into a hell of destruction.

Mariam’s understanding of the way the world functions, is put forth very convincingly in this sentence,

Mariam almost saw the unspoken words exit Khadija’s mouth, like a foggy breath on a cold day

But my favorite passage in the book, is Mariam’s acceptance of her own fate and the destiny to which she is headed.

Mariam wished for so much in those final moments. Yet, as she closed her eyes, it was not regret any longer but a sensation of abundant peace that washed over her. She thought of her entry into this world, the harami child of a lowly villager, an unintended thing, a pitiable, regrettable accident. A weed. And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and had been loved back. She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian. A mother. A person of consequence at last. 

Every time I finish reading the book, it is with mixed emotions. Sadness and joy interspersed with a profound sense of understanding the way of lives of women in a war-stricken country. The conditions they find themselves subjected to, the acceptance of all injustices, and the fear. The unending, all pervasive fear.

This is not just a book you read. This is a book which you take with you, a book which you assimilate into every pore of your being.

A book which stays with you long after you have finished reading it.

 

This review has been written for the Write Tribe’s Festival of Words Day 4

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9 thoughts on “Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

  1. I loved your review. I like the way you end your review, “This is not just a book you read. This is a book which you take with you, a book which you assimilate into every pore of your being. A book which stays with you long after you have finished reading it.”

  2. I read ‘The Kite Runner’ and I completely agree with you when you say that it stays with you long after you read. I couldn’t sleep for several nights after reading it. I almost felt that it wasn’t fair that I had such a lovely protected childhood living in a free country while the innocence of so many children was being plundered elsewhere.

  3. It’s a brilliant book where Khaled Hosseini defty portrays the worlds of Mariam and Khadija. Such books stay with you for a very long time and what a compelling read:)

    • This book was amazing – I think I liked it even more than The Kite Runner. This book was soooo heartbreaking, but it painted a brilliant picture of Mariam’s world. Super compelling – I’m looking forward to reading And the Mountains Echoed as well. Thanks for your review!

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