Friday, April 10, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Has anyone else finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns?

I finished it yesterday afternoon, and thoughts have been swirling around in my head since then... but I can't seem to form them into something coherent. The book was heart-wrenching and heart-warming, all at the same time. Kudos to the author for writing such a spell-binding story.

I sat on my porch yesterday after I finished reading it... and thought about the book... and life. It was one of those soul-searching moments, a time for real reflection. I was thinking about how lucky I was that I could sit on my porch, safe and sound, watching spring valiantly try to take over upstate New York.

You know, we hear all the time the phrase "glad to be an American." But those were my thoughts as I read the book. I am grateful to be an American... as corny as it may sound. My 4 months spent in China really opened my eyes to how others in the world live... and how good I really have it. This book elicited the same strong emotions.

I've never feared for my life. I've never been beaten. I haven't lost all my family members; everyone dear to me. I've never lost my home, my children (not that I have any...) or anything like that. I've never been that hungry. I joke with Cory all the time that I'm so hungry that I might starve to death before he comes to get me for lunch... but we both know it's not even close to being true.

I know A Thousand Splendid Suns is a work of fiction... that Mariam and Laila are fictional characters. But all the things that happen in the book have most certainly happened to someone. Someone real. Daughters are married off, wives are beaten, womens' rights are nonexistent, war is tearing that region apart (and has been raging for years). I don't pretend to understand what factions are fighting with each other - I didn't even follow it that well in the book - but the emotion rings loud and clear.

Of course, I cried through the end of the book. Cried for Mariam, cried for Tariq, cried for Laila, cried when she read Jahil's letter. And yet, I felt at peace with the ending. I liked seeing Laila & Tariq return to Kabul and renovate the orphanage, doing their part to rebuild their war-torn nation.

I really liked the book... sad as it was. I look forward to discussing it more with you guys. Anyone have any thoughts?


Melvin and Carly said...

I finished it a few weeks ago and have been lax about posting. Mainly for the same reason as you mentioned - I had trouble forming my thoughts into something coherent.

Once again, you said what I was thinking about. How glad I am, how fortunate I feel, to be an American. To live in a country where we have so many rights and privileges. Where we take so much for granted.

I seem to go through life happily oblivious to the struggles that so many people in other countries face on a daily basis. Reading this book was sort of like watching "Hotel Rwanda." Again, I was so glad to be an American. And heartsick for the people whose lives are constantly threatened, whether by hunger, violence (both at home or at the hands of the government), sickness, the list goes on. Sometimes I wonder if I'm better off living in my bubble, not knowing, or knowing about all of the strife yet doing nothing about it.

I too was glad that there were positive things happening at the end, that Laila and Tariq were able to have some sense of family and security together and feel pride in the work they were doing to help others in their city.

How's that for a long comment? Thanks for doing my work for me again!

Shafer and Lindsey said...

I agree, you said what I was thinking Sarah! It was such a hard book to read because of all the heartache and violence. I've never felt such anger towards a character as I did for the husband (was it Rasheem? It's been a few weeks and I don't have the book any more). He was so cruel and just all around gross. To think that women are treated that way is horrible. It really did make me sooooo grateful for my wonderful husband and how good he is to me and my children. I too am so glad to live in America where we can do and be whatever we want and our children are safe playing outside.
I also liked that they went back in the end. Although as I was reading it I was thinking, 'no, stay where you're safe!!!!' But, as they rebuild the orphanage and you can see the good they're doing there, you realize it's the right thing to do.
I always love a good love story too and was so glad when they found each other in the end!!!
Good choice! I'm now working on the Kite Runner and so far it's great!