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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalhed Hosseini
A Thousand Splendid Suns is set in Afghanistan from the early 1960s to the early 2000s. Mariam, a young girl in the 1960s, grows up outside of Herat, a small city in Afghanistan. Mariam has a complicated life with her family, a poor mother and a rich yet foolish father. Mariam attempts to visit her father, but he doesn’t let her in, so she sleeps on the street. The next morning, Jalil’s chauffeur drives Mariam home where she finds out her mother has committed suicide.
Mariam is taken to Jalil after her mother’s funeral. Jalil’s wives want nothing to do with Mariam, so they force him to let her marry Rasheed, a widowed shoemaker from Kabul. At first Rasheed treats Mariam decently, but after she suffers miscarriage after miscarriage, he a buses her both physically and verbally. It becomes clear that Rasheed’s only use for Mariam is to replace the son he lost years ago.
Growing up down the street from Rasheed and Mariam is Laila, a young, intelligent girl from a loving family. However, the Afghani war against the Soveits disrupts Laila’s childhood and her older brothers leave to join the war. Laila seeks comfort from her best friend, Tariq, a boy a few years older than her. Just before Laila reaches adolescence, her parents receive news that both her brothers have been killed. A few years later, the war reaches Kabul and bombs fall on the city regularly. By now, Tariq and Laila are teenagers in love. A few years later Tariq tells Laila that he and his family are fleeing to Pakistan, the couples make love for the first time, quickly and passionately. A few days later, Laila’s parents decide to leave as well, but as they are packing a rocket hits their house, killing Laila’s parents and wounding her.
Rasheed and Mariam nurse Laila back to health and after she recovers, a stranger, Abdul Sharif brings her news that Tariq has died. Devastated andrelizing she is pregnant with Tariq’s child, Laila agrees to marry Rasheed. Mariam is initially hurt and threatened by Laila’s presence and refuses to have anything to do with her. However, after Laila gives birth to a daughter, Aziza, the women come to see themselves as allies against Rasheed’s abusive, manipulative ways. A few years later, Laila gives birth to a son, Zalmai. Then one afternoon, after years of abuse and sadness, Laila is shocked to see a man at her front door: Tariq.
Tariq and Laila spend the afternoon together while Rasheed is at work. Laila and Mariam realize that Rasheed hired Abdul Sharif to tell Laila about Tariq’s untrue demise so that she won’t run away. When Rasheed finds out that Tariq has come home, he brutally beats Laila. With a shovel, Mariam kills Rasheed. The next day, Mariam turns herself over to the Taliban in an effort to clear the way for Laila to find sanctuary for herself and her children in Pakistan with Tariq.
In Pakista, Tariq and Laila marry and finally begin the life they had dreamed of so many years ago. With time, both of Mariam’s children warm up to Tariq and they enjoy their new life. But in September, 2001, their happiness is overshadowed by news that the United States has attacked Afghanistan.