review: a thousand splendid suns

23 July 2012

book info:
ages: 16 and up
grades: 10 and up (Years 12 and up)
on sale: now
copy from: library
pages: 372
publisher: Riverhead

title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
author: Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan's last thirty years, from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding, that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives, the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness, are inextricable from the history playing out around them.
Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heartwrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love, a stunning accomplishment.

I am stunned. Is all I can say. I just finished reading it two minutes ago, and I'm shocked. The story is heartbreaking, sad and hopeful and absolutely emotional. This story has the same profound effect as The Kite Runner.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is the best book I've read in ages. Emotional, heartbreaking, bittersweet...amazing.

Mariam, the young girl who starts the story, is a character who is innocent and hopeful to see her father, a rich man who cast her and her mother out of his household, and visits her rarely. She was one dimensional at first, but later, as the story progressed, layers and layers of complexity, past and present mixed together to create a pitiful character that is Mariam.

The story suddenly breaks into the story of a girl that lives in Mariam's new neighbourhood, the daughter of a mother: Laila. Laila and her best friend, Tariq, later form the story that I found most heartbreaking, of friendship and love that endures bloody war and harsh life. . She's beautiful, with yellow hair and green eyes, and he's beautiful in his own right, with a stump where his right leg used to be. It's their story that nearly made me cry, that made me love this book

Hosseini has this way of telling the entire life, lives, of characters from start to finish. Just like in The Kite Runner, with the innocent start of two boys that later turns into an equally, if not more, heart-wrenching story of struggle and friendship: A Thousand Splendid Suns starts off simple. At first, I was a bit confused, unsure of what was going to happen and what was happening, but then as I continued reading, everything fit together perfectly. Small little things have big meaning later on, and the start ties with the end, like a full circle.

The rich Afghan culture as a setting, the Taliban, the war and the social changes truly made this book shine. Rather than just being a backdrop, and having the characters take centre stage and placing more importance on them, the culture and the characters are intertwined. The story of Mariam, Laila and Tariq shines light to an even bigger message of the time of Soviet power, the rise of the Taliban and the effects it has and had on Afghanistan. I think, to portray everything as a whole in such a way, makes A Thousand Splendid Suns a true historical fiction novel.

There is violence, and sometimes it was so hard to read, I just wanted to skip the pages. But it's that raw type of writing that makes this book have such an impact. It's one of the best books I've read in a while, and I wish I had spread the book out over  span of at least a week, and not two days. I don't think I'd like to go back and re-read it, to experience the pain all over again or to read about these unknowing characters and wanting to say things like "Don't do that!" First time read only :)

This is my first time giving five trees to a book, and I say it's well deserved. I recommend this to all readers who think they're mature enough. There's a lot to handle in this book :)

2 thoughts:

  1. Read and reviewed this book also, and had the same reactions. It's an amazing read :)

  2. I'm ashamed to say I've read neither this or the Kite Runner. This actually appeals to me more, because I like the sound of the character of Laila. Must read this soon!


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