Review for A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
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Overall Rating: *** (4.8/5)
Amazon Rating: **** (4.7/5)
One Sentence Review: Khaled Hosseini writes his characters to life, winding intimate plot and historical landmarks into their stories, expands the reader’s knowledge and understanding of life in the Middle East, and breaks our hearts while shining small rays of hope, all in a single, gorgeously composed novel. (Trigger Warning: vivid, grotesque descriptions of abuse such as rape, beatings, strangulation, isolation, and more).
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, 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. (Summary from Amazon).
Although the novel wrenched painfully at my heart and reading through certain pages sometimes felt like stepping on shards of glass, I give this book a 4.8/5 stars. The author’s characters unfold with intensity, their complexities and tangled emotions bring the characters to life, igniting their spirits upon the pages. Some characters were good, some evil, and the rest in between, and all of them make you pause to wonder and think and cry right alongside them. The plot is a windy, tumultuous road that hits every historical event and parallels them with turning points in the character’s lives. It was truly a beautiful story, filled with love and hope and sacrifice and betrayal. Having said this, if you have emotional triggers regarding abuse like beatings, rape, strangulation, isolation, and other equally horrific, vivid descriptions of such abuse, then you should avoid this book. Although Hosseini can write beautifully, he is not afraid to describe the ugly truths (which many times need to be said). If you still feel comfortable (although no one ever feels comfortable reading about abuse) and ready to read about these awful occurrences, then I strongly recommend this novel. Not only does it explain history in Afghanistan before and after the Taliban, it also educates us and gives us an insight into how life is in the Middle East, for women especially. I am way more informed than before, and my perspectives on many things like love, victimization, and heroism have changed drastically because of this novel. I feel like I don't have the words to show how I feel about this book, so I can only leave you with the suggestion to read the book if you are not already reading it for school.
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