Book Review: The Powerful Effect Of A Thousand Splendid Suns

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The book A Thousand Splendid Suns is one filled with great tragedy and strength. The book not only tells a story of what a normal life would be like in Afghanistan during this time but gives a deep insight into two different lives loaded with war, lack of rights, and constant feelings of hopelessness and despair. While I was reading this book, it stunned me how much reading it affected me and made me feel for the characters on a level that I have never felt before. The book represents so much loss and heartache, but also many acts of courage and bravery in a place where these acts are looked down upon. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a story that shows great acts of bravery, a severe lack of women’s rights, and oppression greater and more strictly enforced that I have ever seen before.

In the book A Thousand Splendid Suns, bravery is one of the most prevalent themes. The book is centred around women who live in a culture where they are not treated anywhere near as equal to men and looked down upon as objects. The women in this book are heavily oppressed and face nothing but hardship and loss over and over again. The character Mariam is born as an illegitimate daughter to a successful businessman. This causes her to be resentful toward her mother from her birth and eventually runs away causing her mother to kill herself. As the book goes on, it only gets worse as she is forced into a marriage where she is not respected, treated as less than human, and physically abused by her husband due to her inability to bear a child. On the other hand, Laila was born into a good family and had a somewhat normal childhood. This was all thrown away due to where she was born and eventually wound up living under the wrath of Rasheed with Mariam just because of where she was born. Although these heartbreaking circumstances would cripple any normal person, the women in this story persevere and work together to try to make the best of their circumstances. On page 349 Hosseini states, “This was the first time she was deciding the course of her own life.” This quote takes place right after Mariam had just killed Rasheed before he was about to murder Laila. This quote represents that Rasheed had pushed Mariam and Laila to the point where Mariam was brave enough to sacrifice her life so that Laila could live a happy life without Rasheed. After everything that these two women had been put through, one of them being able to stand up to their oppressor is such an amazing show of courage and bravery in such a dark country consumed by so much war an evil.

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This book did an immaculate job of shedding light on how bad the oppression of females is in this country. From the laws forcing them to cover themselves head to toe and the constant beatings if one simple law was broken, to the laws forbidding them to go outside without a male relative. The list goes on about how awful and insignificantly women are treated, not only in public but inside of their own homes. Rasheed was able to beat his wives and treat them however he pleased without a single fear of him getting in the slightest bit of trouble for it. This is represented on page 7 which states, “Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman.” (Hosseini) From her early childhood days, Mariam was told by her mother men will always find a woman to accuse of all of their problems. It is heartbreaking that Mariam is told this at such a young age, but necessary for Hosseini to show because it is the harsh reality of what women go through in this country. Just like in Mariam’s life, this theme of oppression and persecution is common among all women living in Afghanistan.

The harsh reality is that oppression is the dominant theme in A Thousand Splendid Suns. Not solely is the oppression of women substantially common in this culture, but the oppression of all ages and genders. A passage that shows this lamentable oppression is on page 300 and states, “It was the raids, the reason they were in the yard digging. Sometimes monthly raids, sometimes weekly. Of late, almost daily. Mostly, the Taliban confiscated stuff, gave a kick to someone’s rear, whacked the back of a head or two. But sometimes there were public beatings, lashings of soles and palms.” (Hosseini) This doesn’t even begin to cover all the Taliban enforced, such as men having to have a certain beard, women not being able to show any of their faces, no singing, now writing books, etc. The list of rules goes on with the Afghan citizens being more controlled with each one. My favourite thing about this book is how Hosseini took a fictional story and loaded it with facts to bring a global recognition of the tragic events occurring in Afghanistan.

Unlike most books that I’ve read, A Thousand Splendid Suns opened my eyes to a new perspective on a foreign country I’ve never given a considerable amount of thought to. When I used to think of Afghanistan, I would feel anger towards the country due to 9/11 and the damage some of their citizens did to our country. Now that I have read this book, I realize that many of their citizens feel the same away about those select people that we do. It is hard to imagine living in a country that is defined by war, but what amazes me the most, is the perseverance showed by the civilians who had it worse than anyone. I see this strength the most when the taxi driver is telling the story about him losing two of his sisters in just three days after war broke out. When Laila says, ‘“I’m sorry,” Laila says, marvelling at how every Afghan story is marked by death and loss and unimaginable grief. And yet, she sees, people find a way to survive, to go on. Laila thinks of her own life and all that has happened to her, and she is astonished that she too has survived, that she is alive and sitting in this taxi listening to this man’s story.”’(Hosseini 395) Throughout this book, there has been more hardship than I could have ever imagined. The fact that Laila was able to persist, just like millions of other Afghans gives me a huge amount of respect for the people who have made it through these many challenges.   


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