A Thousand Splendid Suns is a moving story, where each paragraph has something exciting to offer its readers. It is a tale that, though fictional, is based on real-life in Afghanistan. While reading the novel, you will also be shocked to discover the history of a country that has been hit several times by war and devastation.

The story takes place in Afghanistan between 1960 and 2003. During these years several historical changes occurred, such as the invasion of Afghan territory by the Soviets, and constant disputes for power that ended in the emergence of the Taliban. With this book we can understand the historical context that led to the rise of this group.

Indeed, after a year in which the Taliban retook Afghanistan, it is still time to remember in a thrilling book the history of this damaged country that has fought several wars in recent years.

From the destruction of the 2000-year-old Buddhas, to the streets of Kabul with the sound of gunfire and bombs and the fragile situation of women when the Taliban first took control. As you engage with the human interest parts of the book, you will be absorbing the history of what happened in this country. The interest comes naturally from a book where you will learn a lot about the history of this country.

A story of hope

Although in a softer way, the author, Khaled Hosseini, describes war scenarios, historical and political background, etc., while presenting two charming characters in a clever and moving way, involving us emotionally with the ladies and their stories.

The plot has a dual focus and the protagonists were two completely different women from different generations with 19 years between them. Mariam, an illegitimate teenager, and Laila, the daughter of a teacher who always told her she could be anything she wanted. They eventually saw their paths cross when they married the same man, and interestingly enough they ended up developing a relationship of unconditional love between them that is life inspiring.

The mother-daughter love story between these two ladies is so beautiful that it will move even the least emotional reader. In my opinion, the most heartbreaking was the last sentence of the book - so simple, yet full of meaning.

However, beyond the beautiful relationship these two women had, there’s a lot of terror. The book reveals the problems that women faced during the conservative regime such as ordinary domestic abuse. In fact, it seems that, Khaled Hosseini, who is Afghan-American, is doing a kind of activism through his words.

To make that claim, we also need to know the author's background. Khaled Hosseini, was born in Afghanistan, but left the country at the age of 11 when his father was offered a diplomatic position in France. However, with the Soviet invasion, the family never returned and sought asylum in the US, where he became a doctor and writer.

History or present?

We always think that history is something distant from us, something that our ancestors lived through but will never come back to us. Well, it wasn't like that in Afghanistan. When the writer released the book in 2007, I don't think he ever imagined that years later the Taliban would take power in 2021 and restrict everyone's lives again.

In addition, we can put an eye on what is going on in Iran with the death of Mahsa Amini after several abuses by the morality police due to alleged failure to comply with the dress code, which caused outrage among the population who are still demonstrating about this conservative and religiously oriented government that limits a lot on women rights.

For anyone with an interest in this kind of tale, especially people who already have some curiosity in the Middle East, this is a book worth reading.

Now, I can’t wait to read another tale of the very same author. I know he has many more bestsellers, such as The Kite Runner that I’m looking forward to reading next.


Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252

Paula Martins