Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns

As some of you know already, I'm a member (a "Founding Mother", to be precise) of a book club that Erin Jolly started last fall. I love being a member of a book club! We've read so many great books, many of which I would've probably never come across on my own. Plus, whenever I read a good book, I always pressure someone I know to read it because I'm just desperate to discuss it. So, this book club is something I look forward to every month! I've been waiting to make this post until we met on Thursday night, because I didn't want to give anything away before the club had talked about our latest selection.

This month's choice was A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, and I'll have to say I can't remember the last time I've been so moved by a book. Without giving too much away, it is the story of Mariam and Laila, two strong women living in Afghanistan. Their stories are so powerful... I cried more over this book than I've cried over a book in a long, long time. Heck, more than I've cried in a long time period, because most of you know I'm not much of a crier! I think Saunders thought I was going crazy... he begged me to quit reading it because it just possessed my mind for several weeks. Even Katie Anne said, "Mommy book sad. Mommy cries." So, I did quit reading and sobbing over it during her bathtime... I didn't want to scar her for life. :)

Beyond just the amazing story, Hosseini is a beautiful writer. To use a Writer's Workshop word, he has amazing author's craft... the personification, the play of his words... there are so many sentences from the book that just stand out as so well crafted that I'm just in awe of the way he puts words together. So, those two things -the powerful writing and story - coming together just completely mesmerized me, and it has completely changed the way I see my own life. Sometimes, the stress of a busy work day can get overwhelming, or the state of the economy in our country can get depressing, or the challenges of taking care of a husband, toddler, and home can feel like too much... but truly, our life is so amazingly charmed compared to the women trying to raise their children in these situtations. In fact, any woman or girl living in America has been born with such birthrights. I remember Oprah saying once that little girls born in America, regardless of their socioeconomic status, are princesses of the world, and they don't even know it. After reading this book, I completely agree. The things we take for granted ... walking alone down the street, chosing our own outfit for the day based on our personal preferences, driving a car, shopping for our own groceries, owning things that we bought with our money, having a job and a paycheck that's our own ... even just being able to speak to our own husbands, fathers, and sons as an equal human being are rights that many women and girls will never have. I've always been very proud to be an American, but I feel even more so after reading this story. Proud, lucky, blessed ... ah, this book is a life-changer!

Luckily, Erin and Gina feel the same way, and we all want to do something to help the refugees like the ones in the book. I've been researching things on the internet, and we've been tossing around ideas, and I'm so excited about the opportunity to do something. Even though anything I can do will be a drop in a very, very big bucket, a lot of drops do come together to make enough water for a rainstorm - just ask my first graders all about the water cycle! Even if I can just make life easier for one women like me with a little girl like Katie Anne, that will just make my day.

So, I encourage you to read this book if you haven't ... and if you can. Prepare yourself, because it is a journey, but I think you will be changed at the end, and you'll learn a lot. And, get ready to see lots of things on the blog about what I'm working on, because I've got lots of ideas rolling around in this crazy head!


Jason, Erin, and Ella said...

Perfectly put:) You know I know exactly how you feel!! I couldn't even bring myself to write about how much this book moved me b/c I knew my words couldn't do it justice. The quote from Oprah gave me is so true. Can't wait to work on our newest project.

The Rayburns said...

Have you read "The Kite Runner"? One of my best friends highly recommended it, but I haven't read it yet. I wondered if it would make a difference which I've read first (I know they're not a series, but wondered if it would still make a difference)- I've seen these books recommended in several different places now, so I think they might be my next reading project. I'm jealous y'all have a book club!

Kelly said...

I read A Thousand Splendid Suns before I read The Kite Runner. I wish I'd read them the other way around because I felt a greater understanding of Afghanistan's history after Kite Runner and it helped me better "get" some of the things in Splendid Suns.

Like you, we were very touched and motivated by the books to DO SOMETHING - anything! We ran a fundraiser for Grameen Bank and try to donate money every year.

It's not much, but every bit counts.