Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Bloomsbury 2008
I was really, really, REALLY looking forward to reading this book after reading Kite Runner earlier on this year. These are books that I had been looking at for a long time but for one reason or another they never made it to the top of my reading pile. How bloody glad am I that they finally got to the top! AMAZING!
You start by learning about the childhood of Mariam that has been raised on the edges of a city in Afghanistan as she was the product of an affair between her father, a rich business man, and one of his ‘help’, Nana, her mother. Mariams life, like her mothers, is filled with a series of horrific events and when she hits fifteen she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.
The book explores the violence and chaos of the Afghan civil war following the Soviet withdraw, with conditions getting so bad that we as a reader are not surprised the Afghans first welcomed the Taliban as at the point where they captured Kabul, at least they would impose strict law and order in the place of non whatsoever. Life becomes even worse for women under the Taliban, whatever independence they once had is now gone, millions flee to the refugee camps in Pakistan. Women giving birth in crude hospitals without pain killers is just one example given, the Taliban refuse most foreign medical aid and give women as little as possible.
There are two main male characters who are total opposites of each-other, there’s Rasheed a bully who dominates and controls our two female protagonists, both in their different ways suffer miserably under his cruelty. The other character is Tariq, a knight in shinning armour.
One critique I’d make though is the character of Mirarim, she pretty much is the stereotypical passive, long suffering, accepting type who basically gives up her life at the end. The book also does beats you over the head with it’s message, every other page is an example of a woman being treated poorly, or a character telling you women are wretched things in Afghanistan.
I read this whilst way in the North Yorkshire Moors and I couldn’t get enough of it sitting an reading by torch light in my tent as I just couldn’t bare to put it down. I was happy, sad, furious and disappointed at different points throughout this book and would recommend it to anyone. It should be a must read.
“You see, some things I can teach you. Some you learn from books. But there are things that, well, you have to see and feel.”
“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”
Have you read this book before?
Did you love it as much as I do?
Do you have any book recommendations based on the fact that I loved this book?
– happy reading x