A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
This book was our book club read. I was not impressed. Being set in war torn Afganistan I knew it was going to be depressing and as a general rule I tend to read books which catapult me away from reality. In short, I did not want to read this book.
I was right it was depressing, more so shocking, and at times I had to put it down. But it was beautiful, incredibly moving and I loved it.
The story follows the lives of two Afghan women; Mariam and Laila.
Mariam is only 15 when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed 20 years her senior. At first Rasheed is kind but a series of personal tragedies reveal Rasheed's brutal personality.
Laila lives down the street. A young girl growing up in the shadow of her absent brothers who are away fighting with the Taliban. But the love of her modern thinking Father and her best friend Tariq are a shining light in the dusty city.
As Kabul is devastated by mortar attacks an aging Mariam and young Laila are thrown together to live in an impossible situation under unimaginable conditions.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The themes in the book are tough there's no getting away from it and I was surprised and shocked by the extent of the oppression of Afgan women under Sharia law. At times I simply couldn't believe what I was reading. But the writing is stunning. The character are so finely crafted you can almost feel them standing beside you. Despite the atrocities depicted you simply cannot stop reading, desperately hoping it will somehow work out ok in the end.
Be warned, this is a book which will have you reaching for the tissues but it is worth it.