“Every street of Kabul is enthralling to the eye,
Through the bazaars, caravans of Egypt pass,
One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls”
That’s how Khaled found a perfect title for his perfect book.
The story starts with Mariam, a young girl living alone with her unmarried mother on the outskirts of Herat. Mariam is bullied by her mother, and she lives for her weekly visits from her insincere, charming father who runs Herat’s cinema, and whose real family she wished to join. Then comes Laila, born a generation later, is comparatively privileged during her youth until their lives intersect and she is also forced to accept a marriage proposal from Rasheed, Mariam’s husband.
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them – in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul – they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Khaled Hosseini shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.
The slowly growing friendship of the two wives in the face of the horrific abuse from their shared husband. Laila looks upon at Mariam, the woman’s only hope of affection or solidarity is with one another, and they survive not just physically but also emotionally by putting their faith in each other and in their love for Laila’s children.
Honestly, I didn’t feel that the message of this book was of brutality or depression, but of hope, faith and the toughness of human spirit.
I cried, I silently smiled a bit sometimes too. I was angry, I had a sense of relief too at times. I literally went through all those emotional swings while reading this master piece.
This novel regards as a “mother-daughter story” in contrast to The Kite Runner, which he considers a “father-son story”, his debut novel. It continues some of the themes used in his previous work, such as the familial aspects, but focuses primarily on female characters and their roles in Afghan society.
Anyone whose heart strings were pulled by Khaled Hosseini’s first, hugely successful novel, The Kite Runner, should be more than satisfied with this follow-up.