I had high expectations for this book, after having read The Kite Runner, and A Thousand Splendid Suns certainly lived up to those expectations!
The story focuses around two women: Mariam and Laila. Hosseini gives the story of each of these women first, which leaves you wondering how they are going to be brought together. Mariam is a "bastard" child, whose father is ashamed of her, but tries to lessen his guilt by visiting her once a week. Laila comes from a very liberal family, where here mother wears makeup and only a scarf over her hair. When Mariam is married to Rasheed, her life takes a turn for the worse. Rasheed is verbally and physically abusive.
This story follows the Afghan history, from Soviet invasion up to 9/11 and the dissolution of Taliban power. Mariam and Laila live through war and are brought together by it. Though their individual stories are sad and depressing, together they give each other hope and love.
It is always interesting to read about histories of places I am not too familiar with. The Kite Runner gave me a general idea of what has happened in Afghanistan, and this book seems to go into greater detail.
The characters are written extremely well. Hosseini takes you inside Afghan family life during war, and gives you an idea of how horrible the family dynamics can get. This book lived up to my expectations and was just as good a read as The Kite Runner.