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Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plot Summary (Taken from Goodreads): A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years, from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding, that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives, the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness, are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

My Review: One of the best aspects of this book is how it almost reads like non-fiction. Since it is set during the last thirty years and based on events you hear about in the news, it is like the author is putting you right in the middle of those events. Also, the way the characters lives are documented feels like you are reading a journal in the third person point-of-view.

Another good aspect of the book is the characters. Most of the women and some of the men in this book are some of the most resilient and brave characters ever. Also, the two main characters provide stark contrast that makes the reader think about where their own lives are.

In addition, the author’s writing style brings the story to life. The way he sometimes uses metaphors makes certain moments more emotionally palpable.  A few sentences like this goes, “Each snowflake was a sigh heard by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. All the sighs drifted up into the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that silently fell on the people below. As a reminder of how women suffer.”

The only flaw of the book is that because it focuses on the women, some of the male characters were flat. Even though the male characters were secondary characters, there could have been more depth to them. In particular, the character Rasheed deserved a backstory so he wasn’t just a vile man to hate.

Overall, this was a heartbreaking yet beautiful book. I recommend this book to any fan of The Kite Runner and avid readers of historical fiction.

Written by Serena Zola

October 9, 2013 at 9:25 PM

Book Review: The Kite Runner

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It tells the tale of two boys growing up in Kabul, Afghanistan. While both of them share the same wet-nurse, they are from different social classes. Amir, the narrator, is the son of a wealthy and important man. Hassan, on the other hand, belongs to a shunned ethnic minority known as the Hazara and is the son of a servant. Eventually, their lives together reflect the tragedies that come to Afghanistan. After a horrible incident fractures Amir and Hassan’s friendship, the Soviets invade Afghanistan and Amir goes to America with his father. However, Amir soon finds that he can’t forget Hassan so easily.

One of the notable things about this book was its honest insight into Afghanistan and its people. The author, who is Afghan himself, displayed the Afghan culture with a little language and a good bit of customs. For instance, Tashakor, which means Thank You in Farsi. A memorable custom from the novel is the traditional Afghan proposal and wedding.

Of course, there is violence, killing, and rape in this book. While it may seem like things you hear on the news, it is more than that. This book goes into some of the events that led to today’s ongoing bloodshed. Most importantly, it shows how innocent people suffered physically, mentally, and emotionally. Moreover, it shows how small things such as storytelling and kite flying can help you heal. From past to present, Afghanistan to America, The Kite Runner is a raw and powerful historical fiction read.

Written by Serena Zola

March 29, 2012 at 10:05 PM

Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind

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Just after the Spanish Civil War, a boy named Daniel is taken to a secret library known as the Cemetary of Forgotten Books. There, he is told to choose a book that will have special meaning to him. Daniel chooses The Shadow of the Wind, goes home, and reads it in one sitting. Deeply touched, he tries to find the author’s other works only to find that someone has been systematically destroying them. When that someone finds Daniel, he is thrust into a mystery that threatens everyone dear to him.

One of the most moving things about this book is its tribute to the power of books. In fact, there are a few memorable quotes about the impact books and words can have on a person. One such quote is, “Books are mirrors; you only see in them what you already have inside of you.”

Another notable thing is the mystery itself. As the novel progresses, it goes from something innocent to something gothic. Carlos Ruiz Zafón seems like Spain’s Edgar Allan Poe. Overall, this is a fantastic and beautiful novel.

Written by Serena Zola

January 27, 2012 at 8:39 PM

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