The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

September 6, 2007

Book review: ‘Kite Runner’ author crafts powerful, haunting follow-up

“A Thousand Splendid Suns”

By Khaled Hosseini

(For adults)

Hosseini’s follow-up to his bestselling debut novel, “The Kite Runner,” shows three decades of Afghan life through the eyes of two women.

Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, who after a series of devastating events is forced, at the age of 15, to marry 40-year-old Rasheed. Their union is not a happy one and after she fails to produce a son, the abuse becomes an accepted part of her everyday life. Laila is the youngest daughter of educated, liberal parents. After Laila’s 14th birthday, the tension in Afghanistan escalates and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, flees with his parents to Pakistan. Shortly after, tragedy strikes and an injured Laila is brought to the house of Mariam and Rasheed. Upon recovering, Laila is forced to make a difficult choice — one that will forever alter the course of both women’s lives.

The novel is a heartbreakingly sad look at life in Afghanistan, but at the same time an uplifting look at the power of friendship and love. Hosseini has crafted a superb second novel that deserves a look, whether one was a fan or critic of his previous book. Powerful, haunting and beautiful.

“The Thief”

By Megan Whalen Turner

(For fourth through eighth grade)

Things are not as they appear in this fast-paced adventure and fantasy story.

Gen, a talented thief, is imprisoned in the land of Sounis for stealing the king’s seal and has just been released by the king’s magus, for the sole purpose of stealing Hamiathes’s Gift from the neighboring land of Attolia. If he fails, he will be killed; if he tries to escape, he will be hunted down; if he is successful, he will be rewarded.

The adventure takes place across the three mythical lands of Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia, which were inspired by Turner’s visit to the Mediterranean. On the journey, Gen and the magus take turns telling the other members of their party tales of the Eddisian god of thieves. These tales provide background into Gen’s family history.

Gen is a convincing narrator, and the surprise ending will leave most readers stunned, despite the foreshadowing throughout the book. Readers will definitely want to know what happens next, and fortunately for them, Turner has also written “The Queen of Attolia” and “The King of Attolia” to make an exciting trilogy.

Jeana Gockley is the children’s librarian at Joplin Public Library.

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