I read many books in a year. Some I read for entertainment and others to increase my knowledge. Then there is the rare book that does both of those things, plus touches your heart as well. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini does just that. Hosseini's The Kite Runner was a magnificent book, and I enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns even more.
Splendid Suns follows the lives of two Afghani women, Mariam and Laila, as they move from children to adults. The book spans 30 years, beginning with the Soviet invasion and ending with the overthrow of the Taliban. It's difficult to explain more of the story without spoiling the plot, but these two women go from being enemies to unlikely friends. A Thousand Suns is a moving story about the power of love, the bonds of friendship, the love of country, and the struggle to survive. I hated to see it end.
I like books that teach me something, and there is a lot to learn in Splendid Suns. Previously, I didn't know much about the political turmoil in Afghanistan and the various factions vying for power. I knew women had an appalling time living under the Taliban regime, but I didn't realize how horrible conditions really were. The childbirth section will fill you with horror. I also learned of the natural beauty of Afghanistan and her fascinating history.
I was especially moved by Hesseini's eloquent writing and observations. In writing of friendship, "Boys, Laila came to see, treated friendship the way they treated the sun: its existence undisputed; its radiance best enjoyed, not beheld directly." There aren't too many writers who can produce back-to-back masterpieces. Khaled Hosseini is one of those rare talents who can pull off such a feat.