A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Reviewed by R. Yelk, December 2021

This story covers three decades of anti-Soviet jihad, civil war and Taliban tyranny seen from the perspectives of two women. Mariam - the scorned illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, forced at age fifteen into marrying Rasheed, who grows increasingly brutal when she fails to produce a child. Eighteen years later, Rasheed takes another wife, fourteen year-old Laila, a smart and spirited girl whose only other option is marriage, after her parents are killed by rocket fire. Mariam and Laila become allies in a battle with Rasheed, whose violent abuse is endorsed by custom and law. Each woman in the end is forced to accept a path that will never be completely happy for them: Mariam will have to sacrifice her life to save Laila after she murders their husband while Laila, even though marrying her childhood love, must find a way to keep the sacrifice Mariam has made from not becoming an act done in vain. I would warn readers of this book that there are some graphic scenes and mentions of explicit activities. However, I think that teenagers who enjoy action and domestic fiction would like this book.