Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I had A Thousand Splendid Suns downloaded to my Kindle for weeks before I finally dared dive in.

You may remember that among my goals for 2014, I am trying to read a book a month. I’m already ahead. It is February 9, and I’ve read three and I’m getting ready to start my fourth.

I love reading, but the more time I spend online, the less time I spend reading. I miss it, and I’m determined to make reading a higher priority this year.

I tend to read a lot of fluff. I do enjoy reading informational books on occasion, but right now I’m looking for escape. So the first book I read this year was Takedown Twenty. It’s part of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, and I’ve read every single one. This one definitely follows the formula, but I always find them entertaining to read.

Then after that, I read a novel by my friend Jessica Rosenberg, Aloha Also Means Goodbye. It’s a great beach read, if you’re lucky enough to be vacationing somewhere tropical this time of year!

I wasn’t sure I was emotionally prepared to read A Thousand Splendid Suns so I kept putting it off, even after I purchased it and had it in my Kindle queue. I never read The Kite Runner, but I saw the movie, and I knew how intense it was and how a certain scene was unfortunately stuck in my head. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read one of Hosseini’s books. But I also saw a discussion on Facebook where some ladies shared that while reading A Thousand Splendid Suns was hard, it is important for us to read. I am often bemoaning how ignorant I am of other cultures, so I figured this was a good chance to learn a bit about Afghan history and culture, and I was intrigued by the plot line so I decided to give it a go.

Last weekend when my doctor told me to take the day off and rest, I dusted off my Kindle and opened A Thousand Splendid Suns. I read it in two days. I could not put it down.

Yes, parts of it were disturbing, but I thought the author handled the sensitive topics with care. I mean, it was brutal, no two ways about it, but it wasn’t gratuitous, if that makes sense.

The story covers 30 years of Afghan history (of which I was woefully ignorant) and chronicles the lives of two women who are brought together through unfortunate circumstances. I’m not good at being cryptic, and I don’t want to give away the plot so I will just say that I was struck oftentimes throughout the story how powerful love can be and also how intense is our will to live.

Reading a book like this also helps put my own trials into perspective. What Afghan women have endured in my very own lifetime is absolutely mind blowing. I was discussing the book with a friend, and he said that women in medieval times probably had more rights and freedoms than women under Taliban rule. Y’all. It’s not even CLOSE. If my profuse reading of historical fiction is an accurate indication, anyways . . . Ha!

And here I am complaining about not being able to run because of my stupid foot, and we discuss the loss of electricity in terms of trials and affliction.

Perspective is a wonderful thing.

So this week when my foot pain came back, I shrugged and went on with my life, determined to ignore it. (It felt better the next day and is still feeling pretty good . . . so maybe there’s hope! But if not, it’s not the end of the world.)

When our power went out (albeit for only about 12 hours, and most of that was overnight while we slept) I hardly balked.

When school was cancelled for the 4th day out of 5, I smiled and told my kids to be thankful we have heat and hot water.

These are not crisis situations.

People do experience horrible things in our culture, yes, but when you get a chance to see how some women live in other parts of the world, even if it’s just through the eyes of an author of historical fiction, it’s hard not to view your own difficulties with more forbearance.

Would I recommend the book? Absolutely. Not only is it interesting and eye opening to read about the lives of women in other cultures, but the author is a master story teller. In fact, I have already downloaded his next book, And the Mountains Echoed. I can’t wait to get started.

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15 Responses

  1. Based on your reading list, we will be best friends. Yes, I will recommend Khaled Hosseini’s novels over and over again. I have read all his books and I love him. He’s a gifted writer and his writing speaks to me in more ways than one. His new book, And the mountain echoed was one of my summer reading list last year, I was glad I picked it up. Thanks for this post, you made my night 🙂

  2. I so know what you mean – I read the Kite Runner and it was amazing, but really emotionally overwhelming (and I have an MA in history with a focus on Middle Eastern history, so I’m not ignorant of the history and culture of some of the countries). I’ve been holding off on reading a Thousand Splendid Suns because I read the news every day for the region and find that depressing and emotionally tumultuous enough!! Glad to hear it doesn’t disappoint, although I didn’t expect anything less from Hosseini.

  3. I would love to read it…but I have an unfortunate affliction called the “Buynowwithoneclickitis.” I have about 30 books on my Kindle app and my Nook that I have yet to read, and I refuse to buy anymore until I’m done with them all. So I will add it to my wish list instead.

    Incidentally, I loved the Kite Runner, and chose not to see the movie b/c of the scene you mentioned. It was on the sophomore reading list this year at Emily’s school, and I’m hoping it stays there for next year so that she has to read it, along with the Princess Bride 🙂

  4. I have too read A thousand splendid suns and what I really enjoyed about it was that it gave an Afghan perspective of how women were effected by war and the effects Soviet-American political games had on the country. The story goes right in to your heart and it is impossible to put the book down.

    I have previously read SOLD (by Zana Muhsen), which is a book about two british/Yemeni sisters who are forced into marriage in a small village in Yemen. This story was also absolutely heartbreaking and worst of all it was based on a true story! And again it gave an insight into the lives of women without rights. (I really recommend it! )

    However, what I thought was brilliant about A thousand splendid suns is that the book provides historical and political insight through a beautiful story on the strength of women. Making history and politics approachable to those who do not enjoy reading factual books.

    Great post btw, made me want to write a book review myself !

  5. I really enjoyed The Kite Runner and A thousand Splendid Suns but his last book And the Mountains Echoed was not nearly as good as the other two in my opinion. Curious to see what you think after you read it.

  6. Thanks for the recommend – I think reading books like these definitely put things in perspective for us and help us to be grateful for all the things we take for granted in life. I shall read this book!

  7. I love this book. I’ve read it TWICE and cried each time at the end. I can’t wait to read his latest book but I think I’ll wait til the summer when I have time to savor its beauty.

  8. I loved all 3 of his books…And the Mountains Echoed was AMAZING. Now I want to go back and reread The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns (I liked Splendid Suns better than Kite Runner).

  9. I loved A Thousand Splendid Suns & The Kite Runner. I have plans to read the latest one soon. I agree that books like those can really put things in your life into perspective. We have it pretty darn good here, no matter what problems we have, in comparison.

  10. I just finished And the Mountains Echoed. It’s heart-wrenching in a completely different way, but to me was engrossing. Not quite as powerful as his other books, but the kind of story where I forgot I was reading and was THERE. If that makes any sense.

  11. This is my favorite book of all time. I cried as I read it…it was such an emotional book. But, I loved it. It is such a rich, deep story and I felt as though I was there with the characters. It was such an eye-opener, to really read how women have been treated in that country…and was just such a powerful story! I have recommended it to so many people.

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