A Lot of Sorrow; A Lot of Hope



Reading is for learning -- that's what I've always said. I watch television and movies to have fun and zone out; I read books to learn something. Until recently, this has taken the form of mostly reading non-fiction as I understood it to be more educational than fiction. But, I was wrong. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a novel written in 2007 and set in Afghanistan.

This novel takes the reader through the head spinning actual historical scuffles in Afghanistan in the years prior to and slightly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Most of it was regrettably unfamiliar to me, but the putting faces and names to these events (though fiction) helped me to learn about these events in a way that I never would have without the fictional setting.

Much of the book was horrifying -- brutality, violence, oppression. Last year, one of the books I read dealt, in part, with the statistics surrounding women's rights and education (See Factfulness by Hans Rosling). While neither Factfulness nor A Thousand Splendid Suns is about the topic of women's rights, they synergestically formed a foundation for me of how bleak and hopeless society can be when women are oppressed and uneducated. Stifling powerlessness was conveyed in these pages when the women in the book were not allowed to leave their homes without a man, laugh, or make eye contact.

There are so many universal themes in this book -- forgiveness, motherhood, sisterhood, what "home" means, family vs political vs religious ties. My summary of these themes would not do the book justice. All I can say is that they were beautiful -- like a splendid sunrise. This book is a great read, and it touched me. I highly recommend it. The name of the book comes from a 17th Century poem about Kabul, Afghanistan. I'll end with the part quoted in the book:

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls
In case anyone is keeping track:
-I read this book as part of my two-person book club
-I got this book from Marion Public Library. They have two copies.
-This book was recommended to me, but I can't remember by whom. Let me know if it was you.

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