A Thousand Splendid Suns– A Book Review

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Photo by Nick Hillier on Unsplash

After a day of classes, studying, outlining, a nap, and other finals prep, I have a Bookworms post for you today.

This is one of my favorites, a book much like the dedication to Afghanistan in The Kite Runner, this one is a focus on the lives of Muslim women. As one of the stories I have grown to appreciate the most over the years, here’s what I’ve got.


A Thousand Splendid Suns– Khaled Hosseini

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Photo by Karl Magnuson on Unsplash

If you have read The Kite Runner, Hosseini’s writing style should feel familiar among the streets of Kabul yet again. Set in Afghanistan as the wars break overhead and the Taliban takes over the realities so many knew, the main character Mariam introduce the readers to her own world.

As a harami, what many also know as Jon Snow’s bastard status, Mariam is treated terribly from the very beginning. She is the first character we meet within the novel, and through her eyes, we are introduced to a Muslim culture not often seen in mainstream media.

Throughout the novel, there is love, hope, combat, hardship, and family, but most importantly there is endurance. Mariam’s existence itself is a defiance to what many other characters believe is “proper” or “right.” From a young age, she is forced to face tragedy and misfortune head on, her life dependent on how well she followed rules. The way Hosseini weaves the concepts of political control and cultural gender norms is done seamlessly through his characters; he does so to prove a point, one I hope you find if you read this book.

As women, Mariam and so many others are seen as subordinate. But they do not stay that way.

Beyond endurance, there is also a focus on education– in order to have a more productive and focused society, we need to have educated people. This idea is fostered by the character of Laila, someone bound to Mariam and her own life by unfortunate circumstance. As Laila and Mariam’s fates intersect, they come to love, hate, and rely on one another as the story unfolds. Though they are not related by blood, this book brings to question the concept of family and resilience: just how strong can someone be when they are not fighting solely for themselves?

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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

The characters and images in this novel are half the battle, as they make it easy to slip into the pages and get caught up in the story. Though their lives are something I have never come close to living, there are still many ways to connect to these characters and their experiences. Whether it’s the fighting spirit Mariam turns out to have or the devotion of Laila, the narrative perspectives of these two women are what drive this story forward.

As the second time I have read this book, again closely following Hosseini’s other work The Kite Runner, I got the chance to read it with a larger perspective and understanding of the world than I had before. No matter your age or the life you live, this book is an incredible opportunity to step into the streets of Kabul for a short while and understand what it means to live to see a thousand splendid suns hiding behind the leaves.


See you Friday.

Once in a Promised Land– A Book Review

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Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

Back at it again with the Bookworms for you today, here we go.

This has been our first full month back at school, which unfortunately has me in all English classes— so while I’m doing a whole lot of reading, most of it is not for fun. That being said, my diversity in English Literature class is one of the better ones, plus I get to read the Kite Runner again next week. Lucky for you, that also means I have a book that’s a little different but still very a good one to share with you.

So without further ado— here’s my book for the month.


Once in a Promised Land— Laila Halaby

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Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

This is one of those books that takes you out of your own life, your own identity, and puts you into the shoes of someone else to walk around in for a little while. It explores the concept of marriage, faith, the intersectionality of home and race, as well as so much else; something in this novel will apply to you.

The main characters of Jassim and Salwa both go through incredible hardships just within the short contents of this book, yet each seem to handle them so differently. As regular human beings, they face the betrayals of their own minds, bodies, and in many ways, their countries as well.

My class is focused on post 9/11 Muslim American Literature, but this book doesn’t necessarily focus on that. The event is almost a side-effect in the novel of everything going on in the characters’ lives, something weaved so seamlessly in by Halaby that the story comes naturally.

Without spoiling anything, I have to say that the metaphors and running motifs in this book are necessary to pay attention to. These metaphors are almost literally threaded between the lines and give a little insight to the lives or backgrounds of our main characters.

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Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

As someone who was raised in American culture, Once in a Promised Land not only gives me a look into a culture beyond my own, but also helps me understand what it can be like to live that culture. Incidents of micro-aggressions, racism, and even blatant tokenism are both obvious and dangerous within this book, as we see how easy it can be to overlook something that seems so wrong from another point of view.

One reason I would urge you to read this book is for the way Halaby writes the lives of her characters: in a way that makes it hard to figure out who to root for. Every character does something wrong— some more than others— and in turn it leaves us to question both our own morals as readers and as a country. This book is not anti-American, absolutely not, but some actions of America’s post-9/11 are questionable and for this reason, it is something we should recognize. 

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Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

The only criticism I have of this book is the speed– at some times, it definitely could have moved faster or some concepts could have been left out. Many character’s lives overlapped, as you will see throughout the book, and while some connections were hidden until later for suspense, I am not so sure it was always necessary. Nevertheless, the underlying lessons in this book were good to understand and I enjoyed many aspects of this novel.

This book will make you think— to question your relationships, what it means to love and to be honest, even what it means to belong to a country. But by the end of it, I hope you think you can see a little bit more about the world around you too.

I know I do.


See you Friday. And for everyone struggling to make it there, know that you will. Just take it day by day. I will see you then.