Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - A Thousand Splendid Suns

It has been a long time since I've found a book that is so powerful, so compelling that it makes me stay up until 4am to finish it. That's exactly what happened with A Thousand Splendid Suns. As a writer, I find I learn much more from reading than I could ever learn in a class. Khaled Hosseini weaves a beautiful, heart-breaking, heroic tale about life in Afghanistan. It was hard for me to imagine how he could ever write a follow-up as emotional as The Kite Runner. He did it - A Thousand Splendid Suns is a perfect novel. 

As a woman, it was especially moving to read the story. It made me realize how very lucky I am to be an American, to be educated, to be free. I spend each of my days living the life I want to live. Not all women, particularly those in Afghanistan, as as lucky. And it is luck that separates us, me and the women of Afghanistan. Otherwise we are the same - with dreams and aspirations and opinions and beliefs. A Thousand Splendid Suns made me grateful, and t made me feel like I owe it women everywhere to live a life of my own choosing. Freedom is a gift that should not be wasted. 

I love novels because they take us out of our own environment. They force us to live a different life, by different rules, with different choices and consequences. They transport us. There is one scene in the book where a women is being led to her execution in order to protect a friend. At first, I tried to reason every way she could get out of the situation - how she be free and still protect her friend. At first blush, I was horrified at the character's choice, and then as I lived with her memories, with her circumstances, I began to see that I would make the same choice she did. I understood. I empathized. 

I don't know of a social tool more powerful than story. Hosseini is a master of weaving fictional characters into history, allowing them to share the emotional and human fall out caused by societal actions. He makes a strong case for justice and truth and reason and hope - the very things our world needs more of. 

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