Why A Thousand Splendid Suns Should be your next Book Club Book

By Anya P., Grade 12

A Thousand Splendid Suns

The individual stories of two Afghan women fighting for their place amidst the harsh oppression that frequents their country intertwine in the novel A Thousand Splendid Suns written by Khaled Hosseini. The novel is set during the years when the Taliban reigned over Afghanistan and the rebuilding that followed. The novel begins with the story of Mariam, a young girl who was born in Afghanistan in the 1950s and lives with her mother, Nana. Following Nana’s death, Mariam goes to stay with her father, Jalil, who forces her to marry a man much older than her named Rasheed. Rasheed has strict Islamic views and becomes increasingly critical and eventually abusive toward Mariam, especially after she suffers a miscarriage. The second prominent character is Laila, who grew up in Kabul in the 1970s. She and her childhood best friend, Tariq, became intimate with each other before he left Afghanistan when they were fourteen. After a stray rocket hits Laila’s home, leaving her parents dead and her gravely injured, Mariam and Rasheed find and nurse her back to health. Laila realizes that she is pregnant with Tariq's child and also hears rumors of his death, so when Rasheed proposes to her, she accepts. The novel further depicts the struggle of these two young women living in an abusive household in a country that restricts their rights and how they work together not just to survive but thrive. 

So, why should you read it? A Thousand Splendid Suns utilizes complex literary elements to provide insights into the human condition. The novel illustrates the idea that people, especially women, are more powerful together, and the bonds that they form help to cultivate hope when despair runs rampant. Furthermore, the characters have complex relationships with each other, and the themes are related to the real world. 

For myself personally, the novel has been a window into multiple extremely different lives than my own and has taught me to cherish the bonds I have with my own friends. Although my experiences are not similar to those of Mariam and Laila, I am still able to relate to the small moments, like drinking chai together or Laila standing up for Mariam, because of the supportive companionship they share. The novel makes me aspire to be the kind of friend who can always provide a shoulder to lean on whenever needed. Furthermore, Laila and Mariam support each other no matter what, and their relationship reminds me of the one my sister and I share. Being able to be a source of hope for someone when life gets difficult is an important quality to have, and the novel inspires me to strive to be just that for those around me. Due to its relatability and complex themes, the novel is able to provide further insight into the human condition and, therefore, in my opinion, is why you should read this novel.