Khaled Hossieni’s A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the tale of two women — Miriam and Laila in the backdrop of the Afghan war.

The first half is about Miriam, who lives with her overprotective mother. After her mother dies, Miriam is sent away to her father who used to visit them often, but never recognised them as his wife and daughter. He and his wives force her to marry Rasheed, a widower.

The story then shifts focus to Laila, Miriam’s neighbour’s daughter. Laila and Tariq, a carpenter’s son, are friends and their friendship develops into love. With a war hanging over their heads, Tariq’s family decides to leave for neighbouring Pakistan. Laila’s parents also decide to leave. But tragedy strikes and her parents are killed. Then she discovers that she is pregnant and decides to accept Rasheed’s proposal for marriage for the sake of her child.

Rasheed is a cruel man who physically abuses Miriam. Initially, Miriam and Laila don’t get along well, but they eventually become close. Laila gives birth to her second child. By now, the Taliban has taken control over Afghanistan. How they manage during this time, the revelations that follow and the decisions they are forced to take form the rest of the story.

The book is an excellent narrative and tells a touching story of life during wartime. It is written in a simple and elegant manner. It is my favourite book.

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini

Lekshmi S. Sunil, VII C, St. Thomas Residential School, Thiruvananthapuram