If you are one of the two gazzilion people who read "Kite Runner", this follow-up chart-topper will feel familiar. Hosseini has basically followed his successful recipe for the sweeping, epic tale, and let's face it...it works. The story follows the very different lives of two women in Afghanistan...Miriam and Laila. Miriam is raised by an angry single mother who commits suicide when Miriam is only 15. With no other choices available, she is forced to marry an abusive, chauvanistic ass of a man. Laila, who is about twenty years younger than Miriam, lives down the street. When a Taliban missile kills her parents, she is taken in by Miriam and her husband and eventually becomes a second wife to the evil (and smelly, in my mind's eye) bastard. The two women form an unbreakable bond that endures war, spousal and societal abuses, the birth of children and death. Here in America it is easy to view the middle-eastern people as our enemy. We rarely appreciate, however, what it is like for the common folk, and particularly women, to live in a country such as this. A place where every family has lost a loved one to war, women are beaten and imprisoned for laughing out loud or going somewhere without a male escort, or stray bullets take out children playing in the front yard on a daily basis.
I do have to say that I felt Hosseini was attempting to manipulate my emotions...I felt the same way with Kite Runner. But I still have to give him credit for a great book. A book that drives home messages of love, sacrifice, and the power of sisterhood. It is hard to argue with that!