A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns
Photo by Mohamed Nohassi / Unsplash

Genre: Fiction

Author: Khaled Hosseini

To kickstart 2024, I decided to re-read Khaled Hosseini’s masterpiece- "A Thousand Splendid Suns." I first read it a decade ago, and I had no memory of the story details except the strong impression that it was an outstanding book. Ten years later, I still stand by my initial thought.

A man’s heart is a wretched, wretched thing, Mariam. It isn’t like a mother’s womb. It won’t bleed, it won’t stretch to make room for you.

Khaled Hosseini’s exceptional writing flows poetically, and it’s not an exaggeration to say so. It’s been a couple of days since I finished reading this book, and I still find myself thinking about it. You know it’s a good book when the characters and the story stick with you.

And when Aziza woke up crying and Rasheed yelled for Laila to come up and shut her up, a look passed between Laila and Mariam. An unguarded, knowing look. And in this fleeting, wordless exchange with Mariam, Laila knew that they were not enemies any longer.

The story of this book is set in Afghanistan, revolving around the lives of two protagonists, Mariam, and Laila. The author portrays their story separately, describing their upbringing and life journeys until the point where their lives converge, and they start living under the same roof. As you read, you will walk through their lives and experience it all– their joy, pain, suffering, endurance, hurt, betrayal, and hope. Get ready for an emotional roller coaster ride, y’all! Your heart will feel a lot as you read, and I even scared my husband with my gasps while reading. So, if you’re like me, you might want to give a heads-up to the people around you! There are some heart-wrenching twists and turns in the story to keep your eyes wide open.

Hosseini’s writing is vivid, unfolding the story in front of your eyes as you follow along. As a reader and a woman myself, at times, I felt powerlessness in Mariam’s and Laila’s struggles. They didn't have much control over their lives because of the war, abusive husband, and society's rules. Yet, life goes on. One of the lessons I learned from this book is that even amidst the excruciating pain and misery, you take on every curveball that life throws at you and thrive with your utmost power. Life is not fair, but even in the darkest phase of your life, love is what you hold onto. If you love someone and are loved back, that can ease all the wounds that life gives you.

She thought of her entry into this world, the harami child of a lowly villager, an unintended thing, a pitiable, regrettable accident. A weed. And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back. She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian.

While this book may be a work of fiction, Hosseini’s narrative echoes the real-life experiences of thousands, if not millions, in war-torn regions. It gave me a perspective on how fortunate we are to live in a stable environment without the constant fear of a bomb falling on our roof. However, it also reminded me of millions of currently affected by war as I write this. I cannot even imagine how it feels to live through war, lose your loved ones, and see your life turn upside down in the blink of an eye.

A woman who will be like a rock in a riverbed, enduring without complaint, her grace not sullied but shaped by the turbulence that washes over her.

Returning to the book, its hopeful ending offers a sense of closure, but the impact lingers. As mentioned earlier, it’s not a story easily forgotten (well, maybe in the next ten years, I will forget it again), as the characters and their stories stay with you for a while.

My kudos to Hosseini for writing such an impactful story of Afghan women despite being a man. This book is a fine piece of literature, and you should definitely add this to your list of reading. Highly, highly recommended!

I haven’t done this before in my blog post, but if I have to give my ratings, you already know I give this book 5 out of 5.

Now, go grab your copy and let me know how you like this book!

Happy Reading 😊