Author: Khaled HosseiniEdition: PaperbackRating: 5 Stars
This is a book of utmost importance and you should read it immediately. I mean, put down whatever your current read is and pick this up. Don't have it? Buy it, stop by your library, get the ebook. Get it and read it. Of course, you've probably read it and I'm the one who's late to the game.
A Thousand Splendid Suns is about two women in Afghanistan from the time of the Cold War through relatively modern day. Mariam is fifteen when she's married off by her wealthy father, and at first she doesn't hate it, or her husband. Decades later, Laila marries the same man Mariam is married to, which originally creates tension between the two women, but later comes to form a beautiful and strong bond, even during the trying time that their country is going through.
To get it out of the way: the writing was perfectly sparse enough to make me cry several times without causing me to actually tear my heart out of my chest, thus ending my life; the characters were incredibly real that I walked away from the book thinking, even though I knew better, that I should look into where they were "today" as if this were a biography; this book made me a better person for reading it. I wanted to get all that out of the way really fast so that I could talk about the importance of this book. It's not just a good read, it's an important one.
First of all, I had never before seen the events of the cold war from a non-western perspective. It wasn't even something I really thought about, and I hadn't actually known how much of an impact it had on Afghanistan and the Middle East. It's not just something that defined American and Russian history, but the history of the world, and I am quick to forget things like that.
Second of all, it made me think about culture and society in Afghanistan. I'm a pretty liberal person (I hate the term Democratic because that's not really what I am outside of election-time) and stand with religious freedom of everyone. From a western perspective a burqa or hijab can appear to be demeaning to the women who wear them. However, it's a choice many women make for themselves. I know this. I've always known this as long as I could think about these things on my own. In this book, though, it clearly shows the difference between when it can be demeaning (such as when the Taliban enforce it and the women have no choice and it works as a way to single them out in a negative manner) and where it can be liberating (such as the first time when Mariam wears a burqa, even though she didn't choose to on her own, but still realizes it is something she is very comfortable with and likes). It was just this moment of pure clarity for me, and I think it's a good example of a lot of moments this book holds.
Drop everything and read one of the world's most important books that's even more relevant in such a time of discrimination.