Written by Vidhi Bhartiya, a grade 10 student
To sum up this novel in a page or so would be trying to fit the ocean inside a fishbowl. It is unfathomable that a masterpiece like it could be done justice to by my writing. Nevertheless, I should try my best to persuade you all to fall into this amazing world that this novel opens up.
A stunning follow-up to Khaled Hosseini’s debut, The Kite Runner, this heartrending novel captures a permanent place in your heart. It crushes you and remakes you. It makes you smile, more often it makes you cry, but most importantly, it makes you think. It opens the door to a myriad of thoughts, shallow and deep, thought evoking and saddening, and it drags you into a new world, pushes you into a new life. You feel as if you are one of those suffering under the dark shadow of the warlords, the Mujahideen, and the Taliban. You hear the gravel crunching under the wheels of the black cars as they fly past. You hear the rockets and bombs whistling as they bring about death and destruction. You wear a green veil as your life is bartered away, and you exist as an afghan woman in a war-torn country.
Set in the midst of a civil war, this novel explores the unlikely bond that forms between two women, each facing off against their own demons, each bombarded with suffering from an early age, and each doing their best to survive in a deadly world designed to break them. Khaled Hosseini weaves a breathtaking tale of heartbreak , sorrow, tragedy, and defiance in the face of the bleakest odds.
“I was five when I first heard the word harami…”
From the very first line, this novel doesn’t disappoint. I devoured it, reading in lessons, under the covers, on the bus, on my way to class, until finally I closed it with tears running down my face and a completely new outlook on life.
The characters in this novel stay with you long after you read the last line. From Laila’s hunger for knowledge and a fiery spirit to Mariam’s quiet strength and iron will, you find a piece of yourself in every character, and , upon its end, a piece of every character inside you.
Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of one of Herat’s elite, Jalil Khan. His affair with his housekeeper is hastily concealed and Mariam and her mother are relegated to a kolba outside Herat. Nevertheless, she idolizes her father and looks forward to his weekly visits. However, she has a strained relationship with her bitter and unstable mother. On her fifteenth birthday, Mariam realizes the cold truth. Her father is ashamed of her. At the same time, another harsh blow is dealt with: her mother has committed suicide. Sometime later, she has married away with a 45-year-old man as her chosen husband. Ultimately, Mariam’s illiteracy and illegitimacy shapes the course of her life.
Laila is another young woman shaped by the rocks life throws at her.
Her family has been torn apart in the war that encompasses her country at the time, and with no one left to turn to, and a secret that she needs to hide, she finds herself with Rasheed (Mariam’s husband) as her last option.
There she meets Mariam, and enmity turns into friendship, which transforms into a bond that transcends generations.
This unforgettable tale is one that inspires you to believe, never lose hope, and always struggle forward. If you want to read a book on feminism, where women show their power not only through weapons and words, but through their actions and will, this is the book to read.
Set in the bleakest of environments, “it still shines in my heart with the bursting radiance of a thousand splendid suns.”