But I won’t 🙂
I had decided not to read this book several times for no particular reason other than it didn’t appeal to me. But then I read The Kite Runner and fell in love with Kahled Hosseini’s writing so when I saw it on the shelf at my local library I jumped at the chance to finally read it.
The book tells the story of the lives of two women – two women from very different backgrounds and who want very different things out of life. Until they are thrown together by fate and discover that all of a sudden their happiness depends on each other.
Mariam is just a young girl when we join her, full of hope for the future and basking in the certainty of the love she knows her parents have for her. When without warning that certainty is snatched away and she finds herself shipped off to Kabul to marry a complete stranger 30 years her senior.
20 years later the story is taken over bu Laila who is looking forward to a glorious future despite her troubled home life. The communists have taken control of Afghanistan and her father keeps telling her what a wonderful time it is to be a woman in Kabul.
But it isn’t a peaceful time in Afghanistan and consecutive regime changes lead to Laila’s plans for the future being shattered in the cruelest way possible. I would be lying if I said it was easy to maintain my composure reading this book in public.
Through the lives of Maraim and Laila we learn much about the difficult times Afghanistan has suffered through; much more so than in the Kite Runner as almost all of the story takes place in Kabul. But the turbulence of the ruling powers is only a backdrop for the story, it is the turbulence of the women’s lives that takes precedence. It was a gripping read from the first descriptions of Mariam’s hut to the closing chapters detailing the efforts to rebuild Kabul.
As with The Kite Runner, a major theme is the importance of family, although this time, not necessarily in the biological sense. A number of families are described throughout the book but the message seems to be that in the end, sometimes it’s the people you chose to make your family who matter most.