Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 419
Reason for Reading : Library Book Discussion Group

The second book by the author of The Kite Runner. I have not read The Kite Runner (yet), but understand this is not a sequel, but it is still set in Kabul, Afganistan looking at the effect the Taliban have on the lives of two very different women. Mariam is a harami, the bastard daughter of Jalil (a local businessman) and Nana who used to work as a servant in his house. As a young girl she idolises her father despite warnings from her mother and wants nothing more than to live with him and be accepted by all as his daughter.

Laila grows up with a loving father who is very open minded, especially when it comes to his daughter and wife, and mother who suffers from depression and mood swings. Her chidhood sweetheart is Tariq who has lost one of his legs and wears a prosthetic. When misfortune befalls Laila she meets Miriam properly for the first time and the women form a close friendship after the initial barriers are let down.
The Taliban enter the scene changing both of their lives forever. Circumstances move beyond their control as they face continued abuse, starvation and Laila must be separated from her daughter. Through the sadness comes a ray of very unexpected light for Laila. The novel ends on a more upbeat note than the main body of the story, but still has many shadows in the distance which may yet come back.

I have tried to be vague and not give away much of the plot, but it's very difficult with such an amazing and expressive book. Most people in my book group loved it (enjoyed is perhaps the wrong word as though it is beautiful it is heart breakingly sad for the most part), although two people were not impressed at all (the plot can be very predicatble but this did not stop my enjoyment of it). We were lucky to have a lady who was born in Afganistan come and talk to us about what life was really like for women, how much of the book is true to life and share some of her experiences with us. For me, I loved this book and would definitely recommend it. The writing style is lyrical and you really empathise with the two women. You forget that a man has written this novel, Hosseini did a fantastic job of describing their lives, the trails and mundane tasks as well as things like introducing the burka. Read this book!

9 comments:

margotreehugger said...

I've seen this book around. I'll have to read it Katie.

Marg said...

I really loved this book when I read it to! He is such a great writer. Can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

Debi said...

This is the second review I've read today of this...and either one alone would have sold me!

Nymeth said...

Yep, what Debi said...I know this book is very popular but for some reason I had never thought of reading it. But today both you and Dewey convinced me that I really, really should.

Alice Teh said...

Thanks for the review, Rhinoa! I have this in my TBR and looks like I need (NEED) to read this soon. I've read The Kite Runner and finished it while in Sydney last year. It was a great read.

Melody said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Rhinoa! I'll have to read this soon! :)

Trish said...

I often forgot that this was authored by a man as well--he did a remarkable job, I thought. The Kite Runner is also very good but I prefer this one (most of my family members disagree, though). I think it was the female connection, though, that made this one so powerful.

Kim L said...

I want to read this one, I really liked The Kite Runner. What a great writer!

Literary Feline said...

I was really taken with The Kite Runner and am looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for the great review!