Going into this book only having read Hosseini's debut novel, The Kite Runner, I kind of knew what I was getting myself into. But I don't think I properly prepared myself for this book.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

In a way, this book is everything TKR isn't. Where there is very little about women in that book; this one deals almost exclusively with the effects of war, loss, the Taliban, etc. on women. In that book, the characters leave Kabul; in this one, they stay. The characters are fairly wealthy in TKR; in ATSS, the characters struggle to survive. But both books also deal with family, Afghanistan, religion, loss, love, and regrets.

The story is told in four parts with alternating third-person perspectives coming from the two women, Mariam and Laila. Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man who lives in a smaller village. After a series of events, she is married to Rasheed, a man roughly 30 years her senior, when she is 15. Laila is the young daughter of the family who lives a few houses done from Mariam and Laila. She went to school for many years, but after the death of her parents, Rasheed and Mariam take her in. She agrees to marry Rasheed and she and Mariam begin their journey as wife, and later, mother.

Like TKR, the book looks at family dynamics. Mariam and Laila are from very different backgrounds and are part of a different family setting in their marriage. Twisting the family ties as only Hosseini can, the two women face the ever changing Afghanistan landscape together. Under the rule of their husband and the Taliban, the two tell a riveting and heartbreaking story of what their lives have become.

Hosseini brings in lots of geographical, architectural and cultural references and facts throughout the story, as expected. The Kabul in this book is very different and also very similar to the Kabul we see in TKR. I kept waiting for the characters or story to overlap, as there were some time similarities.

The other thing about Hosseini's books that always strikes me is his amazing ability to transport the reader right into the story and make everything seem so real. I know part of it is because the books are rooted in historical facts, but I can't quite believe that Mariam and Laila aren't real people, although I am sure there are many women like them.

This book was definitely a fascinating and emotional read. I've never read a story from a woman's perspective on things like the Taliban and what life in Afghanistan was like at that time. I was heartbroken with everything they went through, I can barely imagine what that must have been like. This book was very bleak - TKR seemed sad, but there was an upswing. This book maintains its melancholy for the majority of the parts and at times I found myself so hopeless.

While I really enjoyed this book, especially the feminine perspective, I still think I prefer Hosseini's debut.

Overall, a great read!