A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns

by Khaled Hosseini

 

Susan Oleksiw (02/06/14): This is Hosseini's second novel, and far surpasses his first. The story focuses on two women, one born illegitimate who seeks the father who visited her occasionally, and the other a young woman who is forced into a bad marriage. The two women help each other survive the terror that is living under the Taliban and their institutionalized hatred of women. The day to day life is vividly drawn, throwing into relief the challenges women face in just getting through the day. Despite the changes that come over thirty years, no woman lives a life that is truly free or safe. The story is unforgettable in its depiction of the raw world of modern-day Afghanistan, and the depth of character found in the women.
Rating: *****

Mel Fonua:  What a very powerful and moving story. I can't believe the amount of suffering the women characters in this story endured, and still having the spirit to survive. Miriam is such a strong character and the giving of her life for Laila is something many of us women would find unimaginable. Highly recommend this book for everybody.
Rating: *****

Janet Kolodner:  I second what Ollie wrote. I really liked the Kite Runner, but I thought this book was far superior. The author outdid himself, and his ability to put himself inside the minds (and bodies) of these characters, mostly women, is awesome. The book is very sad, and the fact that it feels so real and that the story hangs together so well makes it even sadder that it would have been otherwise, I think. But it doesn't wallow in its sadness; it just simply tells a sad set of stories. I read it while under some considerable stress myself; it gave me some perspective, and it also helped me cry.
Rating: *****

Ollie Richie:  The Kite Runner was a fairly ubiquitous in 2007 and 2008. Trying to follow up that narrative would be daunting for any first time novelist but I firmly believe that Hosseini one upped himself with his second novel. Where The Kite Runner forced the plot beyond reality in the second half, A Thousand Splendid Suns tells a believable story of war, violence, and misogyny throughout. Like The Kite Runner, Hosseini clearly spells out his theme with a quote repeated throughout the novel.
"Like a compass needle that points north, a man\'s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always"

The novel follows two Afghan women: Mariam, a harami (illegitimate child) of a wealthy business man from Herat and Laila, the daughter of a former teacher in Kabul. The first part of the novel explores Mariam's childhood and eventual marriage. Next up is the story of budding love between childhood best friends Laila and Tariq. In the third part of the novel, the two women meet when Mariam is 37 and Laila 14. Brought together by the despicable Rasheed, the women eventually bring each other solace and friendship in an otherwise bleak existence where they are left to the whim of their husband and the brutal rules of the mujahideen and Taliban. I don't want to give much away since the plot is simple, which allows Hosseini to focus on developing his characters fully. I will say that what impressed me most is Hosseini's exploration of suffering among women, not just the main characters but also their mothers. Some crumble under not being able to control their destinies while others retain their spirit.
Rating: *****

Anne Davis:  Hosseini has written another page turner that tells the story of Afganistan over 30 years. He paints a realistic although troublesome picture of war, loss, and hope through the eyes of two women and their struggles. It's facinating to read about the culture and customs of the people and see their determination to survive and succeed. Hosseini is a wonderful storyteller and this is quite a facinating story.
Rating: *****

Sheryl Button:  When reading this book, the author writes with such style, it makes you feel you are right there with the characters. The emotions you feel when you read about the women and their lifestyles makes one wonder how anyone can survive under such horrific conditions as being spurned, the devastation of war, the treatment of women, and still have the will to push on. I didn't like this book quite as much as his first book, "The Kite Runner"; however it is still an excellent read.
Rating: ****

 

Judy Stanton: We read this for our book club and the research had some interesting points. In his first book, the author wrote about male bonding, this was about female bonding. In both, the lines of "family" were blurred. Both held suprises toward the end in learning about relationships, people lost from the protaganist's life. I enjoyed this book; it's not easy to read about the awful treatment of women, but the author excels at telling a great story while educating the reader about his country of birth. (He's an MD no less!)
Rating: ****

Kaaren Dolinsky: It is as good as his first, "The Kite Runner". So many authors have spectacular first books and then fizzle out with their second...
Rating: This book was not rated.

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