A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years–from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding–that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives–the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness–are inextricable from the history playing out around them.”

Oh, where do I even start with this book? It’s awful. Well, like “Kite Runner,” the writing is amazing, but the events that unfold are awful. I wanted so much to just put it down and stay in my ignorance, but I couldn’t. I could not put it down. The things that happen to these two women are beyond my imagination. If one or two of those things happened to me I think I would crawl into a little ball and disappear mentally, yet these women found some (albeit small) joy in each other and the children. I kept thinking that it couldn’t get worse, and then it would. It was extremely disturbing at times. It took me awhile to read it because I’d have to put it down and walk away until I could regain my composure. I still have haunting images in my head. I just kept thinking over and over how blessed I am. I have a wonderful husband who treats me with love and respect. He also treats all of our children with love and respect. I have a college education. I may wear whatever I want and go anywhere I want to. I love listening to music and do it often. I worship in the church I want to. My children were born in a very clean hospital with anything that might be needed readily available. If I want a drink of water all I have to do is turn on a faucet. The list could go on and on. I am so blessed. I am so blessed.

This book is not for the faint of heart. It is VERY hard to read. There is violence, war, profanity, rape, torture, death. And why did I read it? It is very well written and it just draws you in. I felt as if I were reading Mr. Hosseini’s diary. I love his writing, yet I despise it. Although it is awful, I am glad I read it. I’m glad to be reminded of my blessings, and I’m glad to be reminded that the world is not at peace. There are evil people out there who don’t care about anything except themselves. It’s a hard lesson to learn. I am so blessed. If you liked “Kite Runner” I would recommend this book. His writing is truly amazing, it is just extremely difficult to read because of all the events that occur. I would not recommend this book if any of the above mentioned things are too disturbing to you.

Rating: R (Remember this does not necessarily follow the movie ratings, it is just my way of saying that children and young adults should NOT read this book.) War, violence, “physical intimacy,” rape, profanity, death, murder.

Recommendation: College and up. Maybe a really mature high school senior, but I would suggest mom or dad read it first to see. It was hard for me as an adult to take it all in and not be overwhelmed, and in fact, there were times that I did have to put it down and walk away because I was so disturbed.

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan nonetheless grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir’s father’s servant, is a Hazara, member of a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them.  When the Soviets invade and he and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.”

This book is amazing. It’s tragic and at times traumatic, but so well written. When I finished the book I felt as if I had just read Mr. Hosseini’s diary. He grabs your attention at the very beginning and draws you into this story that pulls at your heart strings, makes you angry, makes you cry, and makes you very glad to have grown up in the United States of America. The plot has twists and turns and even though you may think you know what is going to happen, it still doesn’t happen exactly as you thought. Mr. Hosseini’s character development is right on. I felt so attached to these characters. His words just come to life on the page.

The events in the story are very difficult to read. I had to put the book down a few times and walk away because I was so traumatized. Even after putting the book down I couldn’t get the images out of my head. It was really hard, but I kept going back. I was so involved I had to finish. I don’t know how much is true about Afghanistan, like dates of invasions and if the Soviets or the Taliban did the things in the stories, but it sure makes you see world events in a different light. It puts a more personal side to events that happen around the world. I would recommend reading this book if you think you can handle the events that take place. It is so well written and there is a wonderful lesson to be learned. There are some happy moments in the book and the main character, Amir, learns a great lesson and learns to overcome his weaknesses. That is something we can all relate to and hope to achieve. I enjoyed learning more about Afghanistan and the way of life there, and some of their traditons.

Rating: R (Remember this does not follow the movie ratings. It is my way of saying this is NOT for children or young adults.) There is a rape scene and there are descriptions alluding to other sexual abuse. There is a horrible death by stoning scene. There are also war-time events that take place that are not for younger readers. There is also a lot of language.

Recommendation: College and up, in my opinion. Maybe a really mature high school senior could handle it, but I don’t think I’d go younger than that. It’s an amazing book, but very difficult to read because of the events that take place.