My Book World
Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, limns this portrait of two Afghanistan women that is both tragic and uplifting. Enemies at first, because they are married to the same abusive man, Mariam and Laila slowly realize their only way through life is to join together as friends. Both women are abused, one as a child, and both after their marriages. All this occurs over decades through the Soviet occupation and then the Taliban. The story ends just as the Americans enter the scene.
Surprises? The landscape. One is tempted to think that the entire country of Afghanistan is as dusty and dry as the movies and news videos that emerge, but Hosseini makes clear to readers that there are wet cycles, that there exist beautiful, mountainous vistas, as well. Another surprise: how misogynistic and cruel some Afghani men are, the women’s husband being a prime example. As the women toil to raise their children (a childless Mariam becomes a grandmother figure), they form a family structure of their own. After both suffering great losses, the story does end on a truly bright note: “But mostly, Mariam is in Laila’s own heart, where she shines with the bursting radiance of a thousand suns” (366). Hosseini possesses a strong understanding of the human condition.
NEXT FRIDAY: John Sedgwick's From the River to the Sea: The Untold Story of the Railroad War That Made the West