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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sins of the Fathers Are Visited on Everyone
A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS tells the wonderful, intensely moving story of how two modern Afghan women overcome the great challenges that have faced women in Afghanistan and rise above their victimization. Khaled Hosseini has succeeded in capturing many important historical and contemporary themes in a way that will make your heart ache again and again. Why will your...
Published on March 21 2007 by Donald Mitchell

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Its not The Kite Runner!
The authors second 2nd try was just that a try!
Not even close the Kite Runner.
Im sorry for the bad review but its justified.
Published 6 months ago by Scott Milburn


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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sins of the Fathers Are Visited on Everyone, March 21 2007
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS tells the wonderful, intensely moving story of how two modern Afghan women overcome the great challenges that have faced women in Afghanistan and rise above their victimization. Khaled Hosseini has succeeded in capturing many important historical and contemporary themes in a way that will make your heart ache again and again. Why will your reaction be so strong? It's because you'll identify closely with the suffering of almost all the characters, a reaction that's very rare to a modern novel.

In Part One, you meet Miriam at age five as she learns that she is a harami (an illegitimate child). Miriam's wealthy father, Jalil, had seduced a housekeeper, Miriam's mother, Nana, six years earlier and now provides for both of them in a remote shack where he can keep a low profile. Despite his concern about his reputation, Jalil adores the attention that Miriam devotes to him. All proceeds in an artificial and harsh way until one day Miriam decides to demand her father's attention. The consequences shape her world for the rest of her life.

In Part Two, the story moves to focus on Laila, who was born to Miriam's acquaintance, Fariba, at the end of Part One. Laila's rearing is almost totally the opposite of Miriam's. Laila is loved by both her parents with whom she lives and has many chances to develop her knowledge and skills. Laila lives in Kabul while Miriam grew up in the countryside outside of Herat. Laila is beautiful while Miriam is plainer. They also grow up in different times: Miriam is old enough to be Laila's mother. Miriam never had a male friend while growing up, while Laila is fascinated by the one-legged Tariq. All is going well for Laila until the war intrudes to send her life off into an unexpected direction.

In Part Three, the two women begin to share a destiny and develop a relationship. Their lives are more fundamentally changed by this relationship than by anything else that has happened to them. The magic of the story is most evident in Part Three.

In Part Four, we come into the present, when Afghanistan is once again opening itself to possibilities.

The time span of the book is from 1964 to the present. In the background, you are kept up-to-date on political events that shake the entire country. In some cases, those political events turn into revolutions and wars. In many cases, the violence intrudes into the lives of the book's characters. It's like reading War and Peace as adapted to modern Afghanistan.

The book also deals with issues of class, religion, sexual roles, child rearing, work, education, and community. These issues are highlighted in terms of the different regimes and attitudes of the controlling male characters. For Afghanistan was a world where the men called the shots, unless they chose not to do so.

Although the issues that are raised and the way that they are raised are pretty predictable, it's a tribute to Mr. Hosseini that you won't see them coming. He moves his characters and action around in such a way that you won't see much foreshadowing of what's to come. Part of that skill comes in making each page so interesting and engaging that you are pulled away from thoughts like "I wonder where he's going next with this plot." I found myself deeply inside the story throughout. That's rare for me, especially in a story that focuses on female characters.

It's early in the year, but I wouldn't be surprised if A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS turns out to have been one of the very top novels of 2007.

I highly recommend this book and encourage you to discuss it with your friends. This novel would be a great choice for your book club.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the burqa, March 23 2007
By 
Amanda Richards (Georgetown, Guyana) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
With his second novel, Khaled Hosseini proves beyond a shadow of doubt that "The Kite Runner" was no flash in the Afghan pan. Once again set in Afghanistan, the story twists and turns its way through the turmoil and chaos that ensued following the fall of the monarchy in 1973, but focuses mainly on the lives of two women, thrown together by fate.

The story starts decades before the Taliban came into power in 1996, and ends after the era of Taliban rule. The main character begins life as a "harami" - the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man and one of his housekeepers. Forced to live in a small shack with her emotionally disturbed and possibly epileptic mother, Mariam lives for Thursdays, the day her father comes to see her, bearing small gifts and showering her with the affection she craves. Naturally, Mariam wants to be a part of her father's life and fit in with his legitimate family, but when she attempts to force his hand, she is rebuffed and feels betrayed by his reaction. Her impetuous actions bring an end to the life she has known for fifteen long years, and lead to an arranged marriage to a much older man, a shoemaker, whose views on the rights of women mirror those that the Taliban would soon enforce.

During the time that Mariam is dutifully enduring her unhappy marriage, a neighbor gives birth to a baby girl, whom they name Laila. By her ninth birthday, Laila has grown up to be a beautiful child with blonde hair, turquoise-green eyes, high cheekbones and dimples. Unfortunately, her mother lives only for the day her older sons will return home from fighting the jihad, and is consumed by the vision of a free Afghanistan. Laila's best friend is a boy named Tariq, her confidant, defender and co-conspirator, and by the end of communist rule in 1992, Laila is fourteen, and beginning to see Tariq in a different way that she does not quite understand.

The enthusiastic rejoicing at the end of the jihad is silenced by the internal battles of the Mujahideen, and when the bombs start falling on Kabul, Laila and Tariq are forced apart. Circumstances can make strange things happen, and Laila soon becomes a part of Mariam's husband's household, by necessity rather than choice. The rest of this unforgettable story reflects the heart-rending sacrifices of these women, and allows the reader a peek behind the burqa, to the heart of Afghanistan.

There are parts of this book that will have grown men surreptitiously blotting the tears that are on the verge of overflowing their ducts, and by the time you get to the middle, you won't be able to put it down. Hosseini's simple but richly descriptive prose makes for an engrossing read, and in my opinion, "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is among the best I have ever read. This is definitely not one to be missed.

Amanda Richards
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lightning strikes twice for Khaled Hosseini's second tale of Afghanistan, July 12 2007
By 
Lawrance M. Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
When I picked up "A Thousand Splendid Suns," the much anticipated second novel by Khaled Hosseini, I had just devoured "The Kite Runner" in a single day but the day before. Still caught up in the thoughts and emotions engendered by that powerful and exquisite first novel I could imagine thousands of people holding this new book in their hands, wishing and hoping that Hosseini would do it again, but different and better. All things considered, following up on a successful first novel is probably harder than coming up with the original effort and Hosseini could have rested on his laurels in the manner of Harper Lee, but as "A Thousand Splendid Suns" amply proves, this native of Kabul has more stories to tell about the land of Afghanistan.

"A Thousand Splendid Suns" is the story of two women living in Afghanistan during the last three turbulent decades of that nation's history. In Part One we meet Mariam, the illegitimate daughter of Jalil, one of the wealthiest men in Herat and the owner of a cinema. Jalil has three wives and nine legitimate children, all of whom are strangers to Mariam, while Mariam lives with her mother in the "kolba" that Jalil and his sons built with sun-dried bricks and plastered with mud and straw. Laila is introduced in Part Two, the young daughter of the university educated Babi. Laila's mother is in mourning for the death of the two sons who joined the jihad against the Soviets and were killed. The paths of Mariam and Laila cross but once in these early parts before their lives become irrevocably linked in Part Three. There is really no need to tell you more, because your ability to anticipate the joining of these two threads will not allow you to guess what is to come in this story and all I really have to say is that those of you who loved "The Kite Runner" will not be disappointed by "A Thousand Splendid Suns."

This book brought tears to my eyes more than the first one and that may well be because of my gender: what happened to Hassan and Amir was horrific in the sense that I could imagine those things happening to me, while as the father of daughters this new novel outraged me. I also know that Hosseini does not spare his characters from their fates and I have to say that I keep thinking that the author is not making these things up; that his characters might be fictional but that family, friends and strangers have all told him stories of what happened in Afghanistan. Regardless of the truth behind this assumption, these stories ring true. I also admire the seamless way that Hosseini works in words in the language on his characters, so that we understand that while they are similar to our words for honor and pride, "nang" and "namoos" have significantly different meanings in this culture. Then there is the steadfast Islamic faith of Mariam and Laila that serves them during the reign of the Taliban, when blind obedience to the law is the order of the day. But it is their beliefs that ring true to us in these pages.

That this novel starts off with two young girls instead of two young boys certainly fulfills the requirement for something different but in the same vein, but what mattered to me more was the fact that this time the characters never come to the United States. That is because "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is not just the story of these characters but also of Afghanistan, a land that has once again been forgotten as first Iraq and now Iran replace it on the nightly news (the reporting of the deaths of U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan always seems like an afterthought when it is mentioned on the news). However, in the end the biggest difference between "A Thousand Splendid Suns" and Hosseini's first novel would be Part Four of this one, which is to say that he takes the characters who have survived further down the road than he did with Amir and his family in "The Kite Runner." Having enjoyed his first two novels within the span of but a few days, I will now have to endure the passage of several years before Hosseini's next novel, but I have no doubts that he will do it again, but different, and that the story will be worth the wait.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly as good, July 20 2007
By 
A. Houston (BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The Kite Runner was for me an amazing read. I was fascinated by the story and the characters, and moved by it, absolutely. THIS novel, although I enjoyed it as well, didn't reach within me so much, even though it was about women not men, and I am a woman. Although I still thought it was a great story, I didn't bond with the characters as much as those in the Kite Runner. Something was missing. Perhaps the author being a male,is better able to convey the feelings and emotions of his male characters in his first book in a more believable way, than those of the women in "Suns"
That is not to say it wasn't a great and worthwhile read, and I would recommend it highly to get an insight into the life of Afghani women. I finished feeling very grateful to have been born when, where and who I was...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it, Oct. 27 2007
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini reads like an epic, it traces the stories of two women brought together by destiny - Mariam, the illegitimate child of a rich man, is married off at fifteen to a much older man, and suffers a life of suppression and subjugation and made to feel worthless for not being able to produce an heir. Her life takes an interesting turn years later when a young 14-year-old girl, Laila is brought into her household and made wife number two. The two women forge a bond of sisterhood, united against their oppressor/husband. I will not give too much of the plot away, but suffice to say that not only do we get to read about these two character's amazing and heartbreaking journey through the cruel and oppressive male-dominated world they live in, but we also get a lesson in Afghanistan's history prior to and later during the Soviet Occupation in the 1980s to the Taliban rule where women are reduced to the ranks of chattel ,and deemed mere breeding mares and servants of men. This is a searing portrait of the plight of women in Afghanistan, and not only does it give voice to the victims of male oppression and harsh cultural traditions, but it stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit with its unwavering hope. Would also recommend the novel DELANO for another great read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opener., June 22 2007
By 
Alicia (Hamilton, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
"A Thousand Splendid Suns" is a fascinating book written by Khaled Hosseini. It is a story about a friendship between two Afghan women set against a backdrop of social and political turmoil of Afghanistan over a few decades.
In the first part of the book we meet the main character, Mariam. She is a harami, an illegitimate child of a housekeeper, Nana, and one of the richest men in Harat, Jalil. When Mariam is fifteen years old, her mother takes her own life. Very soon after Mariam's father marries her off with an old shoe maker, Rasheed.
Mariam moves to Kabul to live with her husband but her life is still full of violence. She is constantly beaten by her husband because she can not give him a child.
The second part introduces us to Laila, the second main character whose life is the complete opposite to that of Mariam's. She was brought up in a time when Afghan women had more freedom and were treated better then when Mariam was growing up. Surrounded by caring parents and a loving man, Tariq, she thrives in the affectionate surroundings. But her happiness comes to an abrupt end with the death of her parents and her separation from the man she loves, Tariq.
Soon, young Laila is brought to Rasheed's house, becomes his wife and gives birth to a baby girl. Between these two women, who are connected by the same path of life, a bond develops. It gives them strength to get through the hardships which they face every day.

This is a very intriguing and powerful book which deals with very real and sometimes disturbing issues: friendship, love, gender inequality, cruel treatment which Afghan women have to face in almost everyday life. You are also taken into the center of social, political, and cultural life of Afghanistan.
It is one of the most fascinating books I have read. I highly recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumph of human endurance, Sept. 9 2007
By 
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Unlike the "Kite Runner", I found this story significantly more gripping, imaginative, realistic and mature in its point of view. I found myself getting fully immersed in the lives of Mariam and Laila, the two very courageous Muslim women brought together in a spiritual bond during one of the most tragic times in Afghan history. Hosseini did a terrific job in providing the background to the many strange twists and turns in the story's plot. First, I got to see how chauvinistically-driven Afghanistan is to this day and how culturally moribund it become during three successive invasions during the 1990s. Second, Hosseini has created a story that develops very believable interpersonal conflict that work themselves out over time with a lot of pain, suffering and death, and does not look for easy solutions such as individuals seeking refuge in outside the country. The ray of hope that the reader receives from the story is of an Afghanistan gradually coming back to life from virtual annihilation. I would recommend this book simply because it presents both a compellingly stark and distressing picture of life inside Afghanistan. Cruelty and ignorance seem to abound everywhere, but the gracious acts of a few good people abound all the more. Great read!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sins of the Fathers Are Visited on Everyone, Dec 8 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS tells the wonderful, intensely moving story of how two modern Afghan women overcome the great challenges that have faced women in Afghanistan and rise above their victimization. Khaled Hosseini has succeeded in capturing many important historical and contemporary themes in a way that will make your heart ache again and again. Why will your reaction be so strong? It's because you'll identify closely with the suffering of almost all the characters, a reaction that's very rare to a modern novel.

In Part One, you meet Miriam at age five as she learns that she is a harami (an illegitimate child). Miriam's wealthy father, Jalil, had seduced a housekeeper, Miriam's mother, Nana, six years earlier and now provides for both of them in a remote shack where he can keep a low profile. Despite his concern about his reputation, Jalil adores the attention that Miriam devotes to him. All proceeds in an artificial and harsh way until one day Miriam decides to demand her father's attention. The consequences shape her world for the rest of her life.

In Part Two, the story moves to focus on Laila, who was born to Miriam's acquaintance Fariba at the end of Part One. Laila's rearing is almost totally the opposite of Miriam's. Laila is loved by both her parents with whom she lives and has many chances to develop her knowledge and skills. Laila lives in Kabul while Miriam grew up in the countryside outside of Herat. Laila is beautiful while Miriam is plainer. They also grow up in different times: Miriam is old enough to be Laila's mother. Miriam never had a male friend while growing up, while Laila is fascinated by the one-legged Tariq. All is going well for Laila until the war intrudes to send her life off into an unexpected direction.

In Part Three, the two women begin to share a destiny and develop a relationship. Their lives are more fundamentally changed by this relationship than by anything else that has happened to them. The magic of the story is most evident in Part Three.

In Part Four, we come into the present, when Afghanistan is once again opening itself to possibilities.

The time span of the book is from 1964 to the present. In the background, you are kept up-to-date on political events that shake the entire country. In some cases, those political events turn into revolutions and wars. In many cases, the violence intrudes into the lives of the book's characters. It's like reading War and Peace as adapted to modern Afghanistan.

The book also deals with issues of class, religion, sexual roles, child rearing, work, education, and community. These issues are highlighted in terms of the different regimes and attitudes of the controlling male characters. For Afghanistan was a world where the men called the shots, unless they chose not to do so. Although the issues that are raised and the way that they are raised are pretty predictable, it's a tribute to Mr. Hosseini that you won't see them coming. He moves his characters and action around in such a way that you won't see much foreshadowing of what's to come. Part of that skill comes in making each page so interesting and engaging that you are pulled away from thoughts like "I wonder where he's going next with this plot." I found myself deeply inside the story throughout. That's rare for me, especially in a story that focuses on female characters.

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS was one of the very top novels of 2007.

I highly recommend this book and encourage you to discuss it with your friends. This novel would be a great choice for your book club.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Endure.", Jan. 7 2008
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This is the story of two women who live in Afghanistan before, during, and after the Taliban regime. Mariam, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man, was scorned by society and forced to live in squalor. When she was fifteen, she did a rash and foolish thing that changed her life forever. Soon she was living far away in the city of Kabul, married to a brutish pig of a man, subjected to daily beatings and cruelty.

Laila grew up in Kabul, daughter of a compassionate father and withdrawn mother. Her best friend was her neighbor, Tariq; he was her confidant and later, her passion. When she was fourteen, life as she knew it was over in a moment, and she, too, became a wife, subject to the same injustices as Mariam.

Mariam and Laila are women who see life through the fine net grill of their powder blue burqas, who have no control over their lives or bodies, who do the only thing Mariam's mother said women can do - they endure. While gunfire and bombs rain all around them, they grow up and grow old. This story is heartbreaking, infuriating, and shocking. There is so much misery that some readers may be put off, but I had to keep reading to see what would happen to Mariam and Laila next. I loved Hosseini's first novel, "The Kite Runner," and I think "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is even better. Heartily recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Heart-Wrenching Masterpiece ....(Author of A Burning Heart After God, The Most Precious Path & What's Dousing Relationship?), June 13 2007
By 
Percy D. Gorham (Jacksonville, FL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was deeply moved as I began to learn the traditional rules and laws of the Afghan culture. The author, Khaled Hosseini, was able to write in such a way that caused me to become concerned about the lifestyle of his two wives. It caused me to appreciate the more free society I am apart of today.

I found this book to be an excellent source of gaining information into the psycho-physiological mindsets of the people within the boundaries of Afghanistan society. As an author myself, Khaled's book inspires me tremendously. It is a great work of art!
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