What can I say about a book that is equally poignant and feel-good? What can I say about a book that is made of gruesome episodes but is pregnant with humanity?
Khaled Hosseini takes your heart, wrings it with tragedy, warms it with kindness, and fills it with despair. By the time you are done with the book, you come out feeling like you just went through an emotional roller coaster. It leaves you light headed, nerve rattled, and heavy hearted, but gives you satisfaction whenever you look back.
Mariam and Laila are characters with so much simplicity that, when set in other circumstances we wouldn’t give much thought for them and the like. But that is Hosseini’s plus point. He picks up simple characters, people of no significance, and turns them into martyrs, forever indelible in our hearts. Every twist and every turn in the story only adds to Laila’s and Mariam’s strength in the face of tragedy.
So many episodes in the book talk about the injustice to Afghan women. For instance,
“Each snowflake was a sigh heard by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. All the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how women suffer.”
“Though there were moments of beauty, Mariam knew for the most part that life had been unkind to her.”
“She thought of Aziza’s stutter, and of what Aziza had said earlier about fractures and powerful collisions deep down and how sometimes all we see on the surface is a slight tremor.”
I loved the contrast in Mariam’s and Laila’s prerogatives. What ensues when these polar opposites (the quiet Mariam and the vehement Laila) are brought together in a common household is the crux of ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’. The initial hostility followed by budding friendship eventually leading to a mother-daughter relationship is beautifully scripted.Towards the end, I found myself praying for them, encouraging them and cheering & crying for them.
I did not have any negative points in the story line at all. My only concern was that I found it hard to keep up with the skipping timeline; I couldn’t jump the gaps in time. But I understand this is necessary in order to finish a book within 400 pages.
The book invariably leaves me feeling grateful for my life. What bored me in history was brought before my eyes in gory detail. Since Khaled Hosseini stuck to the POV of Mariam and Laila, the readers are able to view the wars from their simpleton, innocent eyes. The remnants of destruction might not strike us as a big deal, unless experienced first-hand, which is what happened in ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’.
A must read for everyone, except those with a weak heart. It was much better than ‘The Kite Runner’. I was able to relate to the characters more and journey with them throughout