Friday, April 2, 2010

What are you reading? A Thousand Splendid Suns!

It's been a while since a book took hold of me completely. In a different life, before I had children, I used to be an avid reader. These days I am lucky if I can manage to get through ten pages before I fall asleep at 9pm on a weekday night. The other day, I came across the book A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini. I admit, I have never read The Kite Runner - Hosseinis other famous book turned into a movie. A little while ago, it seemed, everybody was talking about it: parents at school, people at church, friends and relatives, every reading group in town was discussing it. Except for me. I don't really know why I avoided it.

My husband is an English teacher, so he often leaves "a book or two" around the house. This week I stumbled upon A Thousand Splendid Suns laying on the sofa and started reading it. I could not put it down all afternoon - only stopping for brief periods, when the kids came home from school, or when it was time to cook dinner and set the dinner table. I read until late into the night. I just had to finish it.

A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the story of two Afghan women, during the tomoultous times of Russian occupation and the taliban regime, from the 1960s through 2003.

I guess part of the reason this book totally drew me in, is the fact that I grew up in a very disfunctional household myself, and I could relate to the story on a very personal level...Maybe someday I'll be able to write about it. The harsh images of of physical and emotional abuse described in the novel are certainly not for the faint of heart.

Besides being a great book to learn about recent Afghan history, I recommend this book as a great story of survival. Time magazine's Lev Grossman praised it as a "dense, rich, pressure-packed guide to enduring the unendurable." I couldn't have said it any better. Some passages are hard to get through. The kind of hurt that human beings are capable of doing to one another seems unbelievable. In the end the lesson learned to me is, that it does not matter where you live on this planet, you can find abusive husbands and wicked people in any nation under the sun.
Yet in the harshest of circumstances we must keep our chin up and fight for our happiness. Having a good friend by your side is crucial for survival.
Once we get past all the horrors described, we find that the book is a really a celebration of life. Life - in it's most basic form! Don't you ever forget to cherish the simple things: the splendid sunrise over the city, a cup of tea shared with a friend, or the mere fact that you are able to take a breath! Then get up and walk away from the abuse!


Mare said...

What a great post! Now i've got to go dig that book out and read it myself. (I too have been unable to read for the last few years due to being too busy and too tired...we'll see what this year brings!)

germandolls said...

Let me know if you do read the book. I'd like to hear your opinion on the the subject. I am so glad someone commented on this post! I know it's a tough subject...