Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns
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Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Domestic Fiction
Format: Novel
Number Of Pages: 432
Publish Date: 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns is the gripping tale of a woman named Mariam, and a girl called Laila. It tells a heroic story of what it is to live – as a woman – under the rule of the Taliban. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a fictional tale that stays with you and will inspire women and girls for years to come.

Synopsis Of A Thousand Splendid Suns

Miriam is only 15 when she is forced to marry Rasheed, a man much older than her, in Kabul. Rasheed is bitter and unfair, and Miriam spends years tiptoeing and learning how to live under his roof. Almost twenty years later, Rasheed takes a second wife in Laila. A fifteen-year-old girl who, much like Miriam, had no say in the matter, for her hometown has become dangerous, and her family is dead. Miriam and Laila form a bond close to that of a mother and daughter and find consolation in one another.

The Taliban’s rule begins to strip the two women of their rights, and their endurance is tested. Laila has two children with Rasheed, but in this time of great poverty and little work, Rasheed forces Laila to give up her daughter, and even goes as far as to refuse to accompany her to visit Aziza. Laila faces regular beatings from the Taliban in her efforts to visit her daughter. Laila and Miriam are subjected to mounds of torture, abuse, and grief, but with the love of one another, they can persevere.


Miriam, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, lives with her mother in a secluded hut. Jalil frequently visits Miriam, and on her 15th birthday, Miriam asks her father to take her to see Pinocchio and to meet her siblings. Jalil agrees to this, but Miriam is left waiting when her father does not come to collect her. In response, Miriam makes her way to Jalil’s home where she is told her father is away on business.

Disheartened but still holding out hope, Miriam waits outside all night, and discovers that her father had been home the entire time. So, she makes the trek back to her mother, who she finds, upon her return, has hung herself. With nowhere else to go, Miriam moves in with her father, but a marriage is quickly arranged with a widowed shoemaker from Kabul; Rasheed, who is 30 years her senior. Rasheed is kind at first, but when Miriam is unable to give him a child, he grows ruthless and abusive.

Almost twenty years later, Rasheed takes a second wife; a fifteen-year-old girl named Laila, who finds herself without a home and a family. To survive, she knows she must marry Rasheed. With Rasheed, she has two children. Rasheed dotes on his son, ignoring his daughter, and when money becomes tight, Rasheed forces Laila to give Aziza up. With Rasheed refusing to accompany her on her visits to the orphanage, Laila is subjected to abuse from the Taliban. Yet, this does not stop her from visiting her daughter. Miriam and Laila continue to fight for one another and survive the rule of men.


Miriam and Laila take the centre lead, their paths intertwining about a third of the way through the novel. They form a close bond, which provides them with the strength they need to survive. Before the bombings, Laila was friends with a boy named Tariq, whom she makes plans for the future with, but when she gets news of his death, her plans and hopes crumble, leading her to agree to the marriage with Rasheed. For Rasheed, Laila is a second chance to have a son, so he treats her in favour, casting Miriam to the side. For some time, this causes an unrest between Laila and Miriam, until they recognise their common ground and the need to protect one another.

Analysis Of A Thousand Splendid Suns

This book offers a window for readers into the struggles of women under the Taliban, which they continue to face today. Middle Eastern conflicts receive little media coverage, and so it is important that books such as this are written. For women and girls reading this novel, the women represent resilience and a need to fight for their loved ones – they are inspirational. However, with reading this novel also came a great sadness. It is frustrating, how – even today – women are not treated as equals, and they must fight for their basic human rights.

Despite this story being a work of fiction, there is a truth within its pages, and readers will hopefully research further into these matters. A Thousand Splendid Suns acts as a bridge – for young readers who may know little to nothing about the troubles in Afghanistan, this book provides an inside view into the dangers many women face, and the issues that do not get spoken about.

This novel also explores the importance of relationships, and how they can get us through the hardest times. Through Miriam and Laila’s bond, we are exposed to the idea that family goes further than blood – and we can make connections even in the most dangerous of places. A Thousand Splendid Suns also covers the topics of loss and betrayal, aspects that are relatable to most individuals, albeit not always on such a grand scheme. We witness how the events shape Miriam and Laila, and how they tackle each struggle they come across with a perseverance that goes beyond inspiring.

Summary Of A Thousand Splendid Suns

This novel is crucial and eye-opening, particularly for those with little exposure to the goings-on within Afghanistan. I briefly looked at this novel – through school – during the pandemic. But it is not enough to just touch on it. This is a story that every school should focus on, and everyone should read. Hosseini has created two characters that act as role models to females everywhere.

Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good

Further Links

To purchase A Thousand Splendid Suns, click here.

For additional information regarding Khaled Hosseini, click here.