1000 Splendid Suns
by Khaled Housseini
Khaled Housseini was born in Kabul, Afganistan, in 1965. His family moved to Paris for business, and while they were gone, the Soviets invaded. They were granted asylum in the United States. There Housseini went to high school, college and medical school. While he was an intern, he wrote the New York Times number one best seller, The Kite Runner.
His most recent book A Thousand Splendid Suns is a fictional story taking place in Kabul, Afghanistan, starting in the 1960’s to the present time. It begins with the youth of a bastard child-Mariam. Her father slept with her mother, who was his servant. When his wives find out they ask Mariam and her mother to leave the house. Her father visits her once a week along with a religious teacher, mullah Faizullah. The mullah teaches her the Koran, which she becomes strongly fond of.
The other main character is Laila. She is a beautiful blonde haired, green eyed young Afghan girl. Unlike Mariam, she is educated and has friends. She has two brothers who are in the army and her father is an educated man, a teacher.
Laila and Mariam become friends and go through their tribulations together. They stick up for each other in a time when women are maltreated. They help each other and share their secrets and lives with each other. A bond of sisterhood and friendship is born in adversity that nothing can break. These two are meant to be together, to support one another and to love one another.
The characters are believable. They went through a lot of suffering during the changes in Afghanistan. Mariam was my favorite character. She has been through a lot of struggling to make it to become a strong woman who can make decisions for herself, stick up for herself, and take responsibility for her life. She is a victorious woman in a troubled society.
The story goes through the time the Soviets take over, to when the US frees the people from the grip of the Taliban. Many changes happen to Laila and Mariam. Love gained and lost. Children enter the picture and bring joy to Mariam and Laila. Their quest for love and a good, honorable life in Afghanistan is a constant struggle.
When the Taliban take over; women are not allowed to work, travel alone, or be outside alone. There are times when the cruelty of the dominant male becomes outrageous.
This story was very touching. At many times, it was sad. It’s a tragedy to hear what happened to Afghanistan and the people living there; the lives that were destroyed, women’s rights being taken away, poverty and death. The book was interesting with all its twists and turns. My favorite part of the book was its honesty. It honestly portrayed the lives and attitudes in Afghanistan. What I liked least was how tragic the story was. Even though this book was fictional, I could see it really taking place. I read both books written by the author and I would read another. The fact that it takes place in the Middle East attracts me since I am Middle Eastern.
I recommend this book to anyone looking for a real story, a fictional tragedy. It is a quick read and very moving. It makes me appreciate what I have, before it is taken away. I would give this book a 9.5 rating on a one to ten scale. There is still fighting and male dominance in the Middle East, and many women’s lives are still in danger.