The Book Maven's Reviews > A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
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Aug 24, 13

bookshelves: read-literary-fiction, read-set-in-the-middle-east
Read in May, 2007

I tore through this book. Literally read it in about eight hours (my day off). It was an entertaining read, and sad, but I wasn't uplifted by it; it lacked profundity. It's not one of the books that I would read again and again. But maybe that's got to do with the fact that I prefer happier stories.

No one will deny that women have always, and continue to, have it hard. Life sucks for women, and it sucks harder if you live in a war-torn, third world country. Mariam is the bastard child of a local wealthy dude who has three wives and umpteen children (I'm sorry, but why couldn't the household expand to take in another wife and child???), and she and her mother are exiled to a little hovel, outside of town. Her father visits her once a week, and her mother, an embittered woman, constantly rains down negativity. But as it turns out, this negativity is well-founded, for when Mariam's mother kills herself, her father's wives pressure and nag him into marrying her off to Rasheen, an abusive, oppressive lout of a man. (Incidentally, this is a darn good example of how women often are each other's worst enemies.)

Not long after, Laila is introduced into the story--first as a baby, and then a nine year old girl. We see the eventual crumbling and encroaching misery of Afghanistan through her eyes, although she does not realize how profoundly this will affect her until the day a bomb drops on her house and kills her parents, leaving her a 14 year old orphan. Rasheen manipulates her into marrying him, and this is when Mariam and Laila's lives become intertwined.

Hosseini's writing is narrative and straightforward rather than lyrical and evocative, but still a good read.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Abby (new)

Abby Johnson I'm intrigued and put myself on the list at the library... I'm #18 so it'll be awhile, but eventually I'll read it. ;) Hey, this has nothing to do with the book but I'm curious: do you guys do a summer reading club for adults? Do you have a staff one? Seems like many of the libraries up in this area have adult summer reading clubs and I've not really seen that in Louisville or Bloomington (though MCPL does have a winter reading club for adults...).

Reno Hi Melissa,

This book impacted me after I read it more than "The Kite Runner," although it took a lot more effort to read it. In the end, I felt it was a book of hope for Laila and her new family. The sadness that stuck with me was for Miriam. Some lives don't have a happy ending eh? Nice review. :)

Vicar Sayeedi I think you may also enjoy my new novel, "Legacy of The Peacock Throne". It's a beautiful story about Shah Jahan and his Queen, Mumtaz. I'm a Goodreads Author, as well, so please stop by and drop me a note. Thank you.

Vicar Sayeedi

message 4: by Rina (new)

Rina Have you started to read, the latest book by Khaled Hosseini, " and the mountains echoed" ....I have just started it and it is great!

Gabriel Lol, nice review.
I totally agree with women being women's worst enemies. A random thought/explanation on not allowing a new wife and child into the household: unlike his three existing wives, Mariam's mother was not a legitimate sexual partner of Jalil - she and her child were a source of shame to the wives, because just like in monogamous marriages, polygamists are still expected to be "faithful within polygamy". In impregnating Mariam's mother, he produced physical evidence of his cheating on his wives - I don't know if a Western monogamous wife would want to have her husband's mistress and extramarital children move in with them. Yes, I know, what Jalil's wives demanded was pretty hardcore, but I'm just making the point about not living with them...
All in all, I see what you mean about a good read that you wouldn't necessarily read over and over. I think for me though, it's more because I've already uncovered every shock and surprise in the story by reading it once, and that impact would be gone if I read it a second time.

Ricky Sandhu Late! But you asked why can't they accept another wife and a child? Because Nana was Jalil's servant. A poor woman of the lower class. And Marian? Well she is born out of a wedlock.

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