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.