BLURB: “Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move people to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with startling heroism.”
REVIEW: This was the first of Hosseini’s books that I read and, I will confess, it remains my favourite of the three, probably due to its heavy focus on women. The book begins with the story of Mariam, an illegitimate child who lives with a manipulative and domineering mother, longing for the freedom of her father’s distant world of riches and city life. Upon her marriage to Rasheed, Mariam’s hopes for freedom are dashed as she becomes aware of her husband’s abusive and brutal nature. As Mariam’s story worsens the reader is introduced to Laila, Mariam’s young neighbour, whose blossoming relationship with her childhood best friend Tariq is beautifully written and highly realistic. When a bomb goes off in their neighbourhood of Kabul, however, Mariam and Laila’s lives become unavoidably intertwined, and a relationship grows between them that is sealed by their hatred for the violent Rasheed. The book is an amazing portrayal of the horrific treatment of women by the Taliban, something I must admit I knew very little about, and is shocking both in its stark truths and in its many plot twists and turns. This book had me alternately sobbing with horror and joy, and I have never felt so emotionally drained after finishing a book before. Like all of Hosseini’s works, I would very highly recommend this novel.