This is the story of two women who live in Afghanistan before, during, and after the Taliban regime. Mariam, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man, was scorned by society and forced to live in squalor. When she was fifteen, she did a rash and foolish thing that changed her life forever. Soon she was living far away in the city of Kabul, married to a brutish pig of a man, and subjected to daily beatings.
Laila grew up in Kabul, daughter of a compassionate father and withdrawn mother. Her best friend was her neighbor, Tariq; he was her confidant and later, her passion. When she was fourteen, life as she knew it was over in a moment, and she, too, became a wife, subject to the same injustices as Mariam.
Mariam and Laila are women who see life through the fine net grill of their powder blue burqas, who have no control over their lives or bodies, who do the only thing Mariam's mother said women can do - they endure. While gunfire and bombs rain all around them, they grow up and grow old. This story is heartbreaking, infuriating, and shocking. There is so much misery that some readers may be put off, but I had to keep reading to see what would happen to Mariam and Laila next. I loved Hosseini's first novel, "The Kite Runner," and I think "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is even better. Heartily recommended.
Long before Mariam was capable of even understanding the concept, she knew she was a "harami" - illegitimate and unwanted. Her impoverished, embittered mother, rejected by the wealthy Afghani business man who had fathered Mariam, spirals downward from disgust and hatred through mental illness to an eventual suicide. She spits the cruel, pejorative label into Mariam's face at every opportunity. Her sole remaining purpose in life is to have Mariam join her in the crushing belief that there … more
Even better than The Kite Runner!! There exists in this book, a powerful importance behind each and every detail that realistically describes a nation of oppressed women. The traditions of the country in reference to women are described intensely through the life on one powerful person, in particular. An important read for all people!!
His first book, Kite Runner, told such a horrific story that I was afraid to read his second book but I'm so glad I finally did. Also a story of hard lives, but with so much grace stemming from the relationship between the two lead women. Memorable, authentic, satisfying. Highly recommended.