Reading Rainbow

I am not and have never been a Rory Gilmore, but I do, however, go through books like a kid goes through growth spurts. There's always a few months out of every year that I read through and it's usually when networks switch from new shows to syndication, but this year, it's arrived early and I'm relishing every page. At the recommendation of a fabulous friend, an avid reader herself, over the last two weeks I've read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

The Lovely Bones

The books narrator is 14-year-old murder victim Susie Salmon. Raped and killed by her neighbor, Susie ascends to heaven and observes how her death has affected those that love her. It's part mystery and part ghost story. Susie's dad knows who killed his daughter, but he has no proof. As his obsession takes over, he grows closer to his surviving daughter, Lindsay, who becomes similarly preoccupied, but in turn he loses his wife, Abigail, who never wanted children to begin with.

I adore Ray and Ruth, two students linked to Susie by very different paths, but who grow closer to each other over the course of the story, but I am completely in love with Grandma Lynn. Grandma Lynn is Abigail's mother, who is never without a cocktail, a smile, and a shopping bag. For some reason, I picture her as a cross between Gladys Kravitz and Endora from Bewitched; meddling behaviors in the lives of others, but always unobviously happy to help.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

The title of the book refers to the poem Kabul by Saib-e-Tabrizi. Due to language barriers, the translation isn't literal, but the excerpt of which the title comes is:

Every street of Kabul is enthralling to the eye
Through the bazaars, caravans of Egypt pass

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs

And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls

It's a story that focuses on the tumultuous lives of two Afgan women and how their lives cross each other, spanning from the 1960's to 2003. The novel itself is dividing into four parts. The first focusing on Mariam, the illegitimate child of Jalil and Nana who suffers shame throughout her childhood because of the circumstances surrounding her birth. The second part focuses on Laila, the beautiful and intelligent daughter of Hakim, a university educated teacher, and Fariba. The third part of the book switches focus between the two women, intersecting their lives with each chapter, as they are brought together when Laila becomes Rasheed's second wife; his first is Mariam. The fourth part of the book is told solely from Laila's view after she and Mariam part ways.

I adore the love story between Laila and Tariq, but it's the strength, the smiling and the keeping hope through incredibly difficult and painful situations that these women endure that make the story so beautiful.

I recommend both. They are two very different stories, but one like the other, you can't put it down once you start. Happy reading!

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