|I liked this book much more after I’d read it than while I was reading it. It’s a powerful story, following the lives of two Afghani women during the second half of the 20th century. The characters are intensely real, and we walk alongside them as they navigate life and marriage, birth and death, under the violence of changing regimes – the Soviets, warlord anarchy, the Taliban, the U.S. invasion. It is a very difficult story, but one that ends in redemption and resilience.
The thing that made this book more than usually difficult was the domestic violence it contained. In comparing it to other war-torn and difficult books that I’ve read (such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun), I realized the tremendous difference between human resilience in the face of suffering while still being in a context of human and family love, versus resilience to the turbulence of external circumstances while also living under abuse at home. This book contained some beautiful and powerful moments, but also some moments when I wasn’t sure whether to read faster so that it would be over sooner or to put the book down and escape the horror of it all.