by Dr. D ~
By Khaled Hosseini (New York: Riverhead Books, Penguin Group, 2007, 372 pages)
A Novel by the author of The Kite Runner.
The story of two women, Mariam and Laila. Mariam is 5 years of age in Afghanistan, 1964. She looked forward to the visits by her father Jahil until she is old enough to understand that her mother Nana and her were not part of his regular family.
After her mother dies, Jahil finally takes her in but quickly marries her off to a businessman from Kabul–Rasheed who is least 30 years older than the 15 year old girl.
Laila grows up in Kabul, the daughter of a teacher. Life is pretty good till the Russians come and with them the beginning of continuous war. Her brothers are killed in the war against the Russians and her mother is never the same. Laila closest friend is Tariq who moves with his family to Pakistan to escape the war that has finally come to Kabul. Soon Laila’s life is changed when she is injured and her family is killed as they too are trying to leave the war zone.
Rasheed and Mariam take her in and nurse her back to health. Laila plans on going to Pakistan to find Tariq but Rasheed tricks her into staying on and becoming his second wife. At first the two women do not get along but later with the coming of a child they become closest of friends and rely upon each other to make life with Rasheed tolerable.
The story is one of hope in the midst of war and dispair–family and love in the face of incredible injustice and cruelty. It gives one some insight into family life and particularly the plight of Muslim women in Afghanistan over the last 40 years under the Russians, the Mudjahadeen, and the Taliban. An incredible story. *Top