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Saturday, January 24, 2009

This author and his books are highly respected and talked of, and this was indeed well written. But also hard to read. It's so full of despair. Once I finally reached the end, there was some hope .. but a few times I had to force myself to pick up the book .. knowing I would most likely read something deeply saddening. Mariam is a young girl when we first meet her, in a house a few kilometers away from a small city in Afghanistan. We follow her through her life and in the process see pieces of the history of Afghanistan that one might not wish to have seen.

Mariam is born to a unmarried mother, and has a father who is rich but will not marry her mother. She adores her father .. until she discovers that he does not wish to acknowledge her existence in public. After her mother dies, Mariam is quickly married off to the first suitor. Who happens to be much older than her, not physically handsome, and overweight. As a young teenager, she takes over the duties of a household, cleaning and cooking and of course sexual relations. Mariam has little to look forward to in life, and simply tries to get through each day. war becomes part of their daily lives, and the daughter (Laila) of the next door neighbors ends up an orphan, and is 'kindly taken in' by Mariam's husband as a second wife. There is rivalry .. but eventually these two women become friends as they face a common enemy. And Mariam, who has had little hope since childhood suddenly finds herself with hope. Laila has two children, and these two women value them and nurture them. Even Rasheed, their husband, is human again when he is with his son. Laila's childhood sweetheart who she hoped to marry, named Tariq, is a strong man who has seen evil and still come out gentle. May there be more men such as him!

This book is full of sadness. It's about life during war. A number of wars. Evil is clearly depicted. Men who want power, men who tell lies, what death can do to people, what living under fear does, how boundaries can change .. stories that can be hard to read. But for this story .. there are millions of other stories with similar pieces. That are true. Despite the overall sadness and weight and pain in the book, the end is actually hopeful. Not amazing or perfect or wonderful, but there is some light. In the places where darkness has reigned so long, there are people choosing to value each other, choosing to not only survive but work to find the beauty in life. And, by the grace of God .. that is strangely possible in life. Even in the darkest places, God made humans to find reasons to delight in simple pleasures and to hope.

Title:A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Date published:2007
Genre: Fiction,
Number of pages: 367
Notes: Given by Birgit


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