Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I must warn you, this post will give away details of the book so if you are reading or want to read it, don't read this post.
While reading a blog, written by I can't remember who, she mentioned the book A Thousand Splendid Suns written by Khaled Hosseini who also wrote The Kite Runner which I have not read. She was looking for the next "it" book. She read the Twilight series, as did I, which left us both thinking about it for days and even weeks after completing the series. So, she was looking for the next book that could hold a candle to Twilight and found it in this novel. The hubs happened to be at the library when I read this so I asked him to pick it up. I had no idea what it was about and when I read the inside leaflet of the hardcover, I wasn't sure I was going to like it. But, the reviews were amazing. So, I picked it up and read over 170 pages in the first day.
I love to go through my books with a highlighter to save the sections that really appeal to me and found myself quite frustrated because I can't use a highlighter in this book that has to go back to the library. So instead, it has lots of yellow, sticky, flags sticking out of it.
To give you a brief idea, the book is about two different generations of characters growing up in Afghanistan and crosses the Soviet invasion, the reign of the Taliban, and post-Taliban. The author has a magical way of hiding historical fact in his glorious writing and really gives you a feel for how hard life was and is in Afghanistan for the people who live there.
The first part of the story revolves around Mariam Jo and begins in her ninth year of life. She is a child that was born out of wedlock so she and her mother are a disgrace to their family and the family of the man that created her. Mariam Jo's father keeps her and her mother stowed away in a very small home outside of both major nearby towns but he comes to visit once per week. He is a wealthy man but has supplied them with only bare essentials. What I find ironic is that it is common in the culture, at least in the 50s for men to have more than one wife and this man, Jalil had two wives and ten other children all living in his home. The first sticky in the book is in regards to Mariam Jo and her father.
"When it was time for Jalil to leave, Mariam always stood in the doorway and watched him exit the clearing, deflated at the thought of a week that stood, like an immense, immovable object, between her and his next visit. Mariam always held her breath as she watched him go. She held her breath and, in her head, counted seconds. She pretended that for each second that she didn't breathe, God would grant her another day with Jalil."
Despite her mother's anger and rantings against Jalil, Mariam was a small child hopelessly longing to be with her father. You will suffer with her as she learns that everything her mother warned her about is true. Her father is ashamed of her and she is a disgrace. Her life alone with her mother is the best her life will ever be, at least in the first portion of the book. As part I draws to a close her mother has already committed suicide and her father has forced her to marry a fat, smoker, near his fifties, though she is only fifteen. At first she is scared, homesick, and misses her mother but a slowly she begins to connect with her husband. She finds herself full of hope and love when she gets pregnant with her first child but it's shattered when she loses this child and eight more and her husband becomes abusive. In their four years together he has kept her isolated, unable to be friends with the woman in the neighborhood because they are "modern" and forces her to be covered from head to toe when she leaves the home. When he entertains his male friends, she must stay in her own room; she doesn't share one with her husband.
The second sticky is the last in part I and I've come to the point where she is completely incapable of doing anything that pleases her husband. She has been accused of being incapable of preparing a decent meal and ruined the rice. Her husband has strewn it everywhere and storms out. When he returns he forces her to chew a handful of pebbles, breaking two of her molars, to inform her of how badly her rice tastes.
"Good," Rasheed said, His cheeks were quivering. "Now you know what your rice tastes like. Now you know what you've given me in this marriage. Bad food, and nothing else."
I'm just about finished with part II and I promise it's a bit more hopeful than part I but in many cases, not. The the hopelessness of the history of this country is almost hidden in the background because of the powerful bonds the author shares with us. It's an amazing book and for a woman who isn't college educated or up to par on history, I'm smarter for it.

5 drops of sunshine:

Close To Home said...

wow- that book must be profound. wanted to read the kite runner myself! i got tears reading your summary- pretty tough life.

Becca said...

I liked this book a lot too!

Cindy said...

I had not heard of this book - but isn't it wonderful to enjoy reading and learn at the same time.

Blessings, Cindy


wow book sounds amazing , hey girl i have not heard from ya in a while whats going on with ya's. hubby pass boartds yet? praying for ya's . i have to find that book . hope all is well hugs michelle

Melissa said...

Wow ~~~ not sure when I'll get a chance to read that but man it sure sounds intense...you brought me to tears Kari...great summary.