I did a poll on my Instagram recently on which book I should read next and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini won the poll by quite the majority. I’d also had the book recommended to me as “one of their favourite books of all time” by a work colleague so it came highly recommended. And wow, did it impress.
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A Thousand Splendid Suns is a story about loss, a story about pain and isn’t a story for someone looking for light reading. It’s a tense tale
Plot – 5/5
A Thousand Splendid Suns follows the stories of two women, Mariam and Laila, and their journeys and stories throughout Afghanistan across their lives. Mariam starts out life with a troubled childhood and her whole youth seems a disappointment. Laila’s is the opposite, hers starts off positive with a happy and healthy family but quickly turns horrible too. The two tales are told from the point of view of each character, detailing their thoughts and views of different situations.
This story, as I said above is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a deep and powerful tale that pulls no punches in telling the disgusting way women were and still are treated in certain parts of the world and along the way educates you on the recent history of the Middle East and some of the wars and politics that have devastated the region. I can’t say a book has ever made me feel quite as emotionally involved as A Thousand Splendid Suns did. I felt high elation at moments and deep sorrow at others among anger, joy and fear. This is a story that really helps you get into the shoes of Afgan history from the point of view of arguably the worst point of view to be in. It’s harrowing and utterly humbling.
Characters – 5/5
Khaled Hosseini has written two (and more) characters here who feel so utterly believable they could be based on a biography. Mariam and Laila are two women whose lives are about as horrid as it comes. They both suffer physical and mental abuse and they both experience the deepest of loss. You can’t help but sympathise with these women. Their lives go through the real lows that one’s life can possibly go through and they both come out of it how I believe they both would have liked. You can’t help but love both women. They’re both strong, powerful, and viciously intelligent in their own ways and despite the hardships they face, continuously try to bring out the best to those around them. You see both women evolve too. They learn how to adapt to the lives they’ve been forced into. You see them develop from young naive girls into very adaptable women.
Hosseini does a fantastic job of making you utterly despise their husband too. The things he ends up doing to the women and the acts he commits are hideous and will make a lot of people reading feel quite uncomfortable. Everybody you meet has a distinctive personality – they’re either in the book to be loved or to be hated and Hosseini does a fantastic job in moulding those characters to fit those bills.
Summary – 5/5
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini blew me away. It had come highly recommended by quite a few and it did not let me down. This is a book that will tug at your emotions and immerse you in such a dark and horrible life that you won’t be able to stop yourself from feeling sympathy for the women, poor and homeless of Afghanistan during these times and even likely now.
If you enjoy books that take you on an emotional rollercoaster or books that educate you with their tales, then I’d highly recommend this novel. If you just love good books, I’d recommend this novel too as it’s beautifully written. However, I must issue some trigger warnings of rape, physical and mental abuse and even possible trigger warnings around war. This isn’t your jolly summer read. But it is, without a shadow of a doubt, worth every word on every page.
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