A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - Book Review

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - Book Review

Khaled Hosseini’s first novel The Kite Runner catapulted him to fame for his heart-wrenching father-son tale. He later followed it with an even more heart-wrenching novel entitled A Thousand Splendid Suns, but this time it follows two women in a beautiful mother-daughter like tale.

Released in 2007, it was critically acclaimed and became a number 1 New York Times bestseller for almost 15 weeks. 

A Thousand Splendid Suns trace the plight of women in war-torn Afghanistan during the rise of the Taliban rule. The novel is written in dual narrative, where each chapter is titled with both names of the protagonists, and we’re exposed to how each woman lives in a nation that is prejudiced against them. 

We first meet Mariam in the 70s. She’s an illegitimate child of a wealthy man who has little time for her. She’s naïve but is deeply seeking love and affection from her parents, which she can’t find from her estranged mother or her distant father.

When her mother commits suicide, she’s forced to marry a man twice her age at the age of 15. By this point in the story, you’re shocked and heartbroken at how Mariam has faced dreadful events and she’s only 15.

Her husband Rasheed first seems kind and patient, as he waits for Mariam to adjust to her new life. However, he forces her to wear a burqa, at a time where women could walk the streets uncovered. After suffering from a few miscarriages, Rasheed grows impatient because he desperately wants a boy. And so, their relationship becomes abusive. 

Book Details

Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Format: Paperback
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Language : English
Publisher : Riverhead Books
ISBN: 159448385X

Meanwhile, we also get introduced to the second heroine, Laila, as her story takes place years later in the 80s. We first find that Laila’s life takes on different paths, as she’s deeply appreciated and valued by her father who’s an educator.

Laila’s best friend is a boy named Tariq, and they grow close over the years. However, when war strikes and the Taliban rises, Tariq’s family is forced to leave Kabul, and Tariq and Laila say goodbye by spending the night together and make love.

Later on, as Laila and her family attempt to leave too, her life is shattered when a rocket hits her home killing both her parents. An orphaned and injured Laila is later sought out by Mariam and Rasheed and offered a home. 

This is when both women’s stories merge into a beautiful, gut-wrenching tale of strength, jealousy, resilience, sacrifice, and what it takes to make difficult choices in a war-torn country. Rasheed displays an interest in Laila and she only agrees to marry him after she finds out she’s pregnant with Tariq’s child.

While Mariam grows jealous, she later grows closer to Laila and rather protective, especially when Rasheed becomes abusive when Laila doesn’t give birth to a boy. We get to see how these two heroines fight for survival and manage to love in a place where emotions have run dry.

They’re faced with the most challenging situations, and yet they rise and show what it means to be a strong, powerful woman only looking to find joy in a place where there is none. 

A Thousand Splendid Suns has everything, from history to a powerful tale about women in the Taliban-torn Afghanistan. Khaled Hosseini weaves a powerful depiction of life in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule; however, that’s not the main story here.

It’s how a bond was created between two unlucky but resilient women. It’s how they’ve managed to build a connection that many people live years without even experiencing. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll definitely not be able to put this book down.

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Updated 3 years ago