Friday, April 23, 2010

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns was up for voting a few months ago in Book Club but it did not get picked.  It came highly recommended so I decided to read it away.
I liked it.
I really liked it.
Don't tell Flavia.
I think it might stay on the favorites list for a long time.

I have neither read nor seen The Kite Runner yet but it is on the to-do list as well.
If you saw Slum Dog Millionaire and liked it, chances are you will like this one too.

The book chronicles the lives of two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila.  It is divided up into sections.  First, Mariam's story, one of growing up as a bastard child and being shunned because of it.  Then being married off at age 15 and the trials she must endure as a second class citizen in the marriage.  Second, is Laila's story.  Who leads a normal life until she is 14 years old and finds herself orphaned when both her parents are killed during her country's civil war.  She finds herself wed to the same man (Rasheed) as Mariam.  The third section details the lives of both women during their time together.

The story spans several decades and ends in the mid-2000's.  I found myself disturbed and re-awakened to the fact that there really are still places in this world where women do not have basic rights like we do here in the United States.  I, in no way, would call myself a feminist but it disheartens me that in some places a man may say "I divorce you" three times and it is so, but a woman would have to go through years of legal proceedings to end a union.  Or that a man need only say something against a woman and it is taken as fact in a court of law no matter how much evidence is provided by the woman.  I have never in all my literary trysts  silently root for the untimely demise of such a horrible person like Rasheed.  But I did.  I found myself thinking that if a person was allowed to get away with such atrocities then this world would really not be worth living in.  And I was satisfied with his punishment in the end.  (Oops...I just spoiled it, Sorry Timbra).

As a side note: I noticed something very similar between this book and Escape.  Both books involve women in polygamous marriages and domestic violence.  Both books involved women who were not happy in those marriages and did not love their husbands.  And both books detailed how the wives did not get along and were constantly causing trouble for each other.  Why?  Why would they do that to each other.  I find myself thinking that they would have been sympathetic toward each other and the traumatic experiences would bond them together like sisters, such as can happen among siblings who have abusive parents.  In Escape, that never happened and in this book it eventually did happen, but it was years in coming.

My favorite quote from the book is:
"Like a compass needle that points North, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman. Always."
It has quite a bit of truth to it I think.

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